SURRATT: Operation Blitz can be effective with the public’s help

Published 4:00 am Friday, July 23, 2021

Blitz — that’s an interesting word to use as a name for a law enforcement strategy.

“That means we know where you are, we know what you’re doing; we’re coming at you,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said last Wednesday at his question-and-answer program. “When we say, ‘Blitz,’ you’d better run.”

There are several meanings for “blitz,” which is German for lightning. It means to strike fast, like the blitzkrieg tactics used by the German Army at the start of World War II. But the most familiar meaning is sports-related — a defensive strategy known as “the blitz;” a plan to deceive and quickly overwhelm your opponent’s offense by bringing more people than the offensive line can block with the goal of breaking a defender free to stop a running back behind the line or sack a quarterback.

It’s the athletic version of the military strategy, to get there first with the most men.

It will be interesting to see how this strategy plays out in law enforcement and I commend Police Chief Penny Jones for trying to be innovative in her approach to battling crime in Vicksburg.

As the mayor pointed out, there are obviously some things that Operation Blitz will not be able to stop, like domestic violence and other types of spur-of-the-moment behavior that may occur during an argument when reason sometimes is thrown out the window and the participants let emotions like override their intelligence resulting in something like, “I thought he was going to do it to me so I got him first,” and ending tragic consequences.

And as much as we would like to see criminals taken off the streets, our system of laws prevents police from arresting someone without probable cause — in other words, proof. We can’t point at a person and say, “Officer, arrest that man; I think he may rob me,” without some type of proof.

But in the case of people with outstanding warrants or where an investigation indicates someone is selling drugs on the street, Operation Blitz is a good plan as it also would be if police know the location of a suspect wanted for a robbery, burglary or homicide. Lull them into thinking they’ve gotten away, and then surprise them with a warrant and an arrest.

I don’t know how Operation Blitz will work to stop the mayor’s pet peeve of discharging firearms in the city, since the offender just about has to be caught in the act. Discharging firearms is a dumb practice and dangerous. If someone thinks it’s harmless, I refer to a case on the coast where a man fired his gun in the air and the bullet fell, penetrating a person’s skull and killing her. The man was charged with manslaughter.

Operation Blitz can be a very valuable tool to help police fight crime, but it can be more effective if people will report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods or wherever they see something unusual or strange going on.

As North Ward Alderman Mike Mayfield has said many times, “If you see something, say something.”

Our police department can be very effective in their jobs with help from the community and in most cases, they don’t want your name, but what’s going on. This is our community; let’s join in the fight.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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