CHARLES A. MOOSE, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan's choice for police chief, comes to the job ready to address the complaints surrounding the department. Mr. Moose, who has been police chief of Portland, Ore., says he is familiar with the problems cited by minority residents of the county. "We don't need a lot of research and data to prove whether there's race-based policing. If people think it's a problem, then we need to work on it."
Fair enough -- especially in light of the investigations of police conduct already taking place. Adding still more studies would recall the poky perpetual analysis that once weighted down government in Montgomery. But that hasn't been Mr. Duncan's style. When he orders investigations, he expects them to be completed with dispatch. He has asked the police to draft new rules that would punish officers found to have engaged in what is called "racial profiling" -- singling out and harassing minorities, especially African American men. Earlier, he asked authorities to investigate the use of guns and whether police weapons should have safety mechanisms.
Mr. Moose notes that he was a target of racial harassment 25 years ago while working door-to-door in Mobile, Ala. How he might apply this experience in Montgomery should be part of the council's review of his nomination. Just as important -- and not clear from first-day interviews -- is how Chief Moose would deal with crime.
In Portland, he promoted community policing and policies to reduce use of lethal force. Neighborhood leaders praised his ability to work with different groups, especially at youth centers. In Montgomery, where demographic changes are placing new demands on law enforcement, the experience that Chief Moose cites may well improve both police-community relations and the deterrence and detection of crime.