Arp’s horseplay highlights National Night Out

Published 11:26 am Thursday, October 2, 2014

Doug Arp speaks to a crowd from atop a horse Wednesday to raise awareness for this year's National Night Out on Oct. 7. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Doug Arp speaks to a crowd from atop a horse Wednesday to raise awareness for this year’s National Night Out on Oct. 7. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

In full cowboy garb complete with a lasso and his trademark straw hat covered with law enforcement pins, retired Vicksburg police Sgt. Doug Arp did something he swore he wouldn’t do again.

He sat atop a horse in front of the iconic covered wagon at Goldie’s Trail Bar-B-Q.

It was his typical zany, anything-to-promote-crime-prevention fashion, but the stunt was mild compared to previous years because Arp is recovering from open-heart surgery.

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Arp’s horseback address to a crowd of about 50 people touted National Night Out set for Oct. 7 at sites around the city and county.

“The idea is to meet your individual police officers,” Arp said. “The only time you meet them is when you get a ticket or when someone broke into your house. Neither of those is good for social interaction.”

Since 1992, Arp has been performing stunts — often for a week at a time — to raise awareness for the nation’s largest anti-crime event.

“Doug goes out of his way every year to do something zany and raise awareness for crime prevention,” Sheriff Martin Pace said.

The crowd assembled around Arp’s horseplay included Vicksburg police and firefighters, Warren County deputies, judges, attorneys, troopers from Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, officers from Mississippi Department of Transportation, Edwards police Chief Louis Johnson, Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas.

“This shows how united we are and that’s what it takes to combat crime in the community,” Police Chief Walter Armstrong said.

With events like National Night out and active Neighborhood Watch groups, violent crime has taken a serious decrease since Armstrong took office, he said.

An analysis of Vicksburg crime statistics suggests a 41 percent decrease in murder cases and decreases of more than 30 percent each in aggravated assault and robbery since Armstrong took office in 2009.

“We are real serious about zero tolerance for crime in Vicksburg,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

Members of the local community who attended the event and attend National Night Out on Oct. 7 “are the most important people here today,” because without them, law enforcement couldn’t do their job, Pace said.

He also thanked Leigh Ann Nosser of Rainbow Farms for providing two horses for the event, and Randy Wright of Goldie’s for providing the space for Arp’s stunt.