Arp in a trash bin to focus on tonight’s crime fight

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Doug Arp helps Frank Wolf of Vicksburg Cooling and Heating install an air conditioner in a trash bin at the corner of Pemberton Boulevard and Halls Ferry Road Monday.(The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[08/06/02]Doug Arp is up to his old tricks again, this time living inside a green trash bin for two days to raise awareness for tonight’s annual National Night Out Against Crime.

The goal is to prevent crime by fostering a sense of community through block parties and other events. Arp’s stunts serve the purpose of causing people to think about how they can prevent crime through awareness and alertness.

“The more people we know, the more we look out for each other,” Arp said.

To celebrate the theme of “Giving Crime and Drugs a Going-Away Party,” block parties, cookouts and neighborhood visits by local law enforcement officials will be across Vicksburg from 7 to 10 tonight.

Arp’s 48-hour home is at the corner of Pemberton and Halls Ferry, chosen because it is one of the busiest intersections in town, guaranteeing maximum exposure for Arp’s cause again this year.

“It reminds me of a college dorm I once had, but cleaner,” he said of the trash container.

All joking aside, Arp said his air-conditioned, waterproof trash bin is more comfortable than other venues for stunts in the past 11 years. He’s lived on top of a billboard, in a police car suspended 40 feet in the air and in a hole in the ground.

“A lot of people think it’s strange, but it’s actually a pretty nice environment,” he said. The trash bin is new and clean, and Arp has outfitted it with an air conditioner and a lawn chair.

The perks include free food from visitors and local restaurants, and the chance to speak with residents who inevitably stop by. He also spends a lot of time on a cell phone, talking on area and national radio programs about crime prevention.

“That’s what’s good about this community,” he said. “They always come out to support you.”

Despite the relative comfort, problems always arise. Last year, his upside-down van began to leak gasoline. This time, his trash bin was filled with a few inches of water before he emptied it with a cup and a towel.

This year, Arp, 53, is staying in his chosen home away from home for only two days instead of his usual seven. The reason is that he recently retired from the Vicksburg Police Department where his seniority gave him vacation time sufficient for the stunts. He now works in security at Ameristar Casino and has only his normal days off available.

Arp isn’t sure what he’ll do next, but is considering revisiting stunts from previous Nights Out. “I was going to do the billboard again,” he said, “But it requires a lot of preparation. This (the trash bin) is easy.”