Chief; crime down, except property crime

Published 12:06 am Saturday, May 24, 2014

With crime happening at an alarming pace in other parts of the state, Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong said that Vicksburg citizens have been on good behavior lately.

“Crime is everywhere, but we have been very fortunate to not have had any violent crime in the city over the past several months. This has been an area that we have worked extremely hard on,” said Armstrong.

Crimes were among the topics that Armstrong addressed at the Port City Kiwanis meeting Thursday morning. The chief spoke about property crime, which has been one of the city’s main problems.

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“Individuals have been taking items out of cars, homes and buildings. We’re going to keep our troops on the ground and hopefully, with the help of our citizens, we can cut down on these crimes.”

Armstrong said that the police force will participate in the Click it or Ticket campaign during Memorial Day weekend where more officers will be working to make sure that drivers are wearing their seatbelts. Armstrong said that Mississippi’s involvement in the nation-wide campaign has led the percentage of safe drivers to increase to 82 percent.

“This trend has really caught on in the state because of roadblocks and more officers focusing on people who do not wear their seatbelts.”

Armstrong mentioned a new law that will be effective on Oct. 1 that will require those who are arrested and charged with DUI first offense to have an interlock installed in their vehicle. The interlock will be a Breathalyzer that the driver will have to blow into before starting the car. The device will cost $150 for installation. Drivers with this device will also be charged a $75 monthly fee for continued use.

“The person with this instrument in their vehicle will have to blow into it before they start driving. They will have to periodically stop along their way to reengage the instrument.”

Another law scheduled to take place Oct. 1 will allow those charged with the same crime to have their record expunged.

“This means that if someone is charged with DUI first offense, they will be able to petition the courts and get their DUI charge removed.”

Armstrong said that this law would apply to all age groups.

Armstrong said that DUI convictions are down in certain parts of the state. He believes that this is a result of DUI offenders postponing their trial until October so that if they are convicted, they can have the charge expunged.