He’s upside down over crime

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 1, 2001

Vicksburg Police Sgt. Doug Arp sits inside his home for a week after moving in Tuesday. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[08/01/01] Sgt. Doug Arp began his weeklong promotion of the National Night Out’s anticrime message Tuesday when he stepped into an upside-down van at Halls Ferry Road and Pemberton Boulevard.

The 24-year veteran of the Vicksburg Police Department said the start of this year’s stunt is different than any other year’s, complicated by gasoline leaking into the van.

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Arp said he noticed the fuel after an inspection of the van Monday night.

“We thought we would have to change vans,” Arp said.

Always the optimist, he said the gasoline fumes and the summertime heat were not going to stop this year’s program, “Don’t let Crime Turn Your World Upside Down.”

“The heat won’t bother me any; it’s all in your mind,” Arp said as he looked in the 26-year-old van, his home for the next week, that initially had no cooling.

Vicksburg Cooling and Heating furnished an air conditioner and a fan Monday afternoon to help expel the fumes.

Vicksburg Police Chief Mitchell Dent said Arp’s stunts have brought a lot of local and national media attention, but the main focus is placing crime prevention at the forefront of people’s minds.

Arp also has been involved in other crime prevention programs, such as the the D.A.R.E. program.

“He gets excited and really takes it to heart,” Dent said.

Arp said he is not worried about being bored sitting down for a week, because he routinely gets lots of calls on his cell phone and visitors to his home away from home.

“I love meeting people and talking about crime prevention,” Arp said. He was featured on Jackson TV Tuesday night and has done phone interviews in years past with radio stations around the nation.

Each summer for 10 years Arp has performed a stunt for National Night Out, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. He has lived on a billboard, in a hole in the ground, in a fountain, in a suspended car, in a garbage receptacle, in a phone booth, in a dunking booth, in a wrecked car and in an armored vehicle.

Next Tuesday, thousands of communities around the nation are expected to hold block parties, cookouts and poster and essay contests to celebrate the event. Vicksburg will start its events Tuesday at noon when Arp leaves his new home. He and local city and law enforcement officials will then make their way to different block parties around the city, encouraging people to make new friends and keep a watch over their neighborhoods. Hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks will be provided. Jamee Carter, public information officer for the Vicksburg Police, will organize the parties.