National Night Out aims to reduce crime

Published 9:51 am Thursday, October 1, 2015

For the next five days, retired Vicksburg police Sgt. Doug Arp will call a Dumpster in the Kroger parking lot home.

Arp went into the giant trash bin at noon Wednesday as his annual stunt to raise awareness for National Night Out.

“Basically it’s for neighbors to meet each other. If you don’t know your neighbor you’re not looking out for each other,” Arp said.

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For more than 25 years, Arp has performed an annual stunt ranging from living atop a billboard to snorkeling in the mall’s fountain to help raise awareness for the nation’s largest block party against crime.

This year’s theme is “Let’s Run this Horse Trash of Crime Out of Town.” A number of officials addressed the crowed from horseback, while Arp mounted a miniature horse before climbing into the Dumpster.

More than 50 people attended the event, and hundreds are expected to stop by and see Arp, who will offer advice on crime prevention and watching out for neighbors.

“This is about what you are doing today and what you have done for many years,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. Reeves attended the event and also toured ISA Tan Tec at Ceres industrial park.

Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney said Arp’s message was important for the community.

“It’s a very effecting when you get to know your neighbors and your neighborhood,” Chaney said.

Arp’s antics have drawn attention from coast to coast and netted a number of national awards for his efforts to reduce crime and promote Neighborhood Watch programs.

“Our mission as peace officers is and should always be first to prevent crime,” Sheriff Martin Pace said. “Every year we meet a few more people and they meet a few more people and the Neighborhood Watch programs grow.”

Vicksburg Mayor and Police Commissioner George Flaggs Jr. said the city is committed to keeping crime under control. In the past 10 months, violent crime has spiked with seven homicides in the city and two home invasion rape cases, one of which led to a homicide.

“We believe in zero-tolerance in crime. We’re doing everything we can to put crime in the trash can,” Flaggs said.

District Attorney Ricky Smith said the event Wednesday and high attendance at National Night Out shows residents support deputies and police officers.

“There’s a lot of animosity these days toward law enforcement, but I can tell you in this county people still love and respect law enforcement,” Smith said.

Vicksburg police are sponsoring a National Night Out event from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at City Park pavilion on Lee Street. The event will feature music, food and inflatable jumps for children. Admission, entertainment and food are free.

Arp encouraged people to call him at 601-497-4798 or stop by to talk while he spends the five days in the Dumpster.