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Portland's first Black police chief, Charles Moose, dies at 68

He served as chief in Portland from 1993-1999, but is best known for leading the effort to arrest the Washington D.C. snipers in October 2002.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Charles Moose, who became the Portland Police Bureau's first Black police chief in 1993, has died at the age of 68. Moose was chief of PPB from 1993-1999, but he is known for his role in the DC-area sniper attacks investigation in the early 2000s.

KGW spoke with former PPB chief, Derrick Foxworth, who worked with Moose.

"It was hard to learn of his passing, it really was. I look at everything that is here and I know he had a part of it," said Foxworth as he stood outside of PPB's North Precinct in Northeast Portland.

Moose's wife, Sandy, announced his death in a Facebook post on Thanksgiving. She wrote in part, "Right now, I can't think much beyond I need a plan to celebrate this man: my best friend since 1982. He meant so much to so many, I'm at a loss... Godspeed Charles."

In Portland, Foxworth said Moose inspired his fellow police officers.

"His leadership style, the way that he really strongly believed in it, he personified it. It did change a lot of us. He changed the culture," Foxworth said.

He said Moose leaves behind a legacy, one that includes his important work around community policing in Portland. The general idea of the concept is to protect the community by creating relationships and connection with people.

Foxworth remembers Moose playing Michael Jackson's song, "Man in the Mirror" at work. He said the former chief wanted his team to hear the lyrics and to realize they could make a difference.

"Charles always said don't go along to get along. Don't compromise your values," remembered Foxworth.

His colleagues at the bureau also took time to remember Moose. On Twitter, Sgt. Pete Simpson remembered Moose as his first chief who handed him his first badge. Simpson described Moose saying he was, "tough as nails but also kind."

Foxworth said during his time in Portland, a lot people often saw the serious side of Moose, but he had a sense of humor.

Current Police Chief Chuck Lovell tweeted too, saying he feels connected to Moose, “...as he was the first African-American chief, a champion of community policing and led the bureau during challenging times.”

Foxworth said Moose was also known for implementing the crisis response team, a diverse group of people who would help police de-escalate situations and be a bridge to the community.

After serving in Portland, Moose became chief of Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland from 1999-2003. During his time with the bureau, he led the effort to arrest two men behind the sniper shootings that killed 10 people in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. in October 2002. Moose later went on to write a book called "Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the Serial Sniper", which recounts his experience working on the case.

The Montgomery County Police Department sent condolences to Moose's family and friends in a post on Facebook Friday morning.

RELATED: As Portland deals with unprecedented gun violence, PPB chief grateful for more funding

"We are extremely saddened by the news announcing the passing of former Chief Charles Moose," said Marcus Jones, the current police chief of Montgomery County.  "He was a great leader and led our department through the DC Sniper investigation, one of the most difficult crime sprees in our country’s history.  We send condolences to his wife Sandy and all of his family and friends."

Former Montgomery County Chief of Police, Charles Moose has died at the age of 68. According to his wife, he passed at...

Posted by Montgomery County Police Department on Friday, November 26, 2021

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