Police chief gets rave reviews for downtown cleanup

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 24, 2000

Police have responded quickly and effectively to complaints, including citizen-made videotapes, of unruly late-night crowds drinking beer and liquor in the streets of Vicksburg’s historic downtown, business leaders say.

“I think (Police Chief Mitchell Dent) has really jumped on it,” said Main Street Director Rosalie Theobald. Police cars have been seen patrolling downtown, and bar patrons have for the most part been staying inside the establishments.

Harry Sharp, who said last month that the late-night revelers were keeping customers away from his upscale eatery, Duff’s Tavern and Grille, said a videotape of the disorder made by a Washington Street nightclub owner is largely responsible for the improvements.

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“A picture speaks a thousand words, and I think we’ve gotten a positive response from the city,” Sharp said.

Vicksburg’s police chief said Tuesday that public drinking and disorder, like that caught on videotape last month by Attitudes nightclub owner Robert Smith, won’t be tolerated.

“After seeing that, it allows us to know what type of things we need to target,” Dent said.

The tape, recorded by Smith over two weekends, showed dozens of people wandering up and down the street with open containers of alcohol in violation of a city law against public consumption of intoxicants.

“We’re looking at using some statutes that allow us to deal with the owner of a club that is allowing people to take their drinks out of the building,” Dent said. “We’re encouraging the club owners to help us keep some peace and order on the street.”

Police are also working with the Vicksburg Fire Department to make sure clubs do not allow more people inside than allowed by fire codes, he said.

Dent encouraged anyone witnessing lawbreakers downtown to call the police.

“We’re going to make sure that no violations occur,” he said.