Talk about defining heroism downward.

The Nose's email box fairly sparkled this week with a message that included a link to a Washington Post story about ex-Portlander Charles Moose.

Moose was the Portland police chief who left his post here under a cloud of criticism to become the chief of the Montgomery County, Md., police force. It was a lateral move at best, and Moose seemed destined to retire in obscurity until last October, when a sniper shot and killed 10 people in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Moose headed the investigation and earned his 15 minutes of fame each day when facing the media, giving out cryptic messages to the sniper and, on occasion, famously shedding tears in front of the camera.

Not long after the arrest of John Allen Muhammad and his young associate Lee Boyd Malvo, Moose announced his plans to write a book about the investigation, a decision that collided with a county ethics commission ruling that any effort to profit from the case would be an abuse of his office.

Now, the Nose thinks the chief ought to be allowed to write his book, which is tentatively titled Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the D.C. Sniper. After all, Moose had a front-row seat to a historic criminal investigation, and, as long as he doesn't dash out his draft on government time, he should be able to cash in.

But the Nose has a problem with the chief's wife.

Moose met Sandra Herman Moose when he was a cop in Portland and she worked in an office that investigated alleged police abuses. Mrs. Moose was always known as someone who would say what's on her mind. It was a trait that made her popular with the local press corps but has now made her hubbie look foolish.

Sandra Moose appeared at a news conference, saying that her husband would challenge the ethics commission ruling that banned his book plans. The Nose loves the song "Stand by Your Man," so he had no issue with that. But then, she said the chief's decision to do so made him "no less of a man than Dr. [Martin Luther] King, Nelson Mandela and any other great person that stood for a principle."


Talk about clothing a self-serving opinion in the wardrobe of nobility.

Problem is, if the Nose's memory serves him, Moose, when he was Portland's police chief, was better known for his emotional outbursts than he was for his Mandela-like qualities of patience (which may be why his spouse now teaches a course on anger management at Montgomery College).

Moose was anything but heroic when he once overruled one of his police commanders who wanted to discipline a bad cop. The cop allegedly picked up a hooker, drove her to an industrial stretch of Northwest Portland and made her diddle herself in the back of his cruiser while he watched from the front seat, in exchange for not busting her. The police commander wanted to suspend the cop for 10 days. But Moose decided that a letter of reprimand was enough.

Clearly an act of King-like disobedience.

Or, there was the time when another officer was accused of doing a knee-drop onto the back of a woman's neck after she fled the scene of a fender-bender, then tearing the rotator cuff in each of her shoulders as he dragged her to the car. The citizens' review committee (the same panel Herman had worked for) determined that the officer had used excessive force. The City Council agreed and urged Moose to discipline the officer. Moose, however, in another profile of courage, decided the officer had done nothing wrong. Because the woman was fat, he reasoned, she had to be dragged.

Yep, a regular Mandela, that Moose.

Come to think of it, the Nose has been acting much like Mother Teresa of late. Just last week, he returned his books to the library.