Arp remembered as a man who loved people, community

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, September 14, 2023

Talk to the people who met Doug Arp and they will describe him in many ways.

But Buddy Holiday, who was Vicksburg police chief in the 1970s when Arp joined the department, probably gave Arp the greatest compliment.

“The best way I could ever describe him is he’s the kind of guy you would want as a friend, and he was a good friend to anyone who was his friend,” he said.

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Arp, who began his career in law enforcement with the Port Gibson Police Department, was a champion for crime prevention and historic recognition for fallen officers in Warren and Claiborne counties. For more than 30 years, he conducted annual stunts in the name of crime prevention.

When he retired from the Vicksburg Police Department, Arp joined the Warren County Sheriff’s Department as its unofficial historian.

“He was a volunteer. He coordinated our National Night Out programs — every one since I’ve been in office,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said.

Arp was recognized at the local, state and national level for his work with National Night Out. Over the years, his stunts included spending weeks in a dumpster, in the mall water fountain, atop a billboard, and in a hole in the ground. Arp also coordinated a snake exhibit with the Jackson Zoo to “take a bite out of crime,” spent four days in a commercial icebox and lived in a police cruiser suspended 60 feet in the air by a crane, among other stunts.

But before he became Warren County’s symbol and spokesman for National Night Out and crime prevention, Arp had a reputation as a dedicated officer for the Vicksburg Police Department. Arp joined the VPD in the mid-1970s.

“He was very intelligent, very dedicated to law enforcement,” said Holiday, who retired as chief in 1987. “He probably had more concern for the citizens than 10 officers would be added together because he would follow up on things on his own.”

Holiday called Arp “a good officer, a very good officer; very detailed. His reports were very good.”

He added that Arp’s zany demeanor hid the fact that he was a very intelligent person.

“He doesn’t give you the impression of actually how smart he is,” he said. “He has one of the highest IQs, I would just say.”

Holiday said Arp’s father was in the military and his family traveled with him to his different duty stations.

“He had gone to every country that you would want to go to, to see history and important sites, as a teenager. He took all that in and he didn’t give you the impression that he had a super IQ but he did. You could put him in a million-dollar suit and he looked like he’d just come out of a clothes rack.

“He really got an interesting education in his life and he could talk to you almost in any subject that you would want to discuss. If you were an expert in some things, he would know something about it. It was just strange for his personality.”

Arp got into the public relations aspect of police work and crime prevention when Holiday retired.

“That’s when he got into what people called stunts but it was his way of bringing certain things to the public interest to make them think about it, like living in a garbage can, or a dumpster or up on a signboard,” he said. “He’d spend as much as a week in some of those places, 24 hours a day. It wasn’t he goes there 10 hours and goes home; these things he did were 24-hour steps.”

Holiday said Arp’s work locating and honoring officers killed in the line of duty was another good project that was an example of Arp’s love of law enforcement.

One local recipient of Arp’s work was Warren County Tax Assessor Ben Luckett, whose great uncle was a Warren County sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty.

“I didn’t know he was a historian,” Luckett said. “I’d only met him once before but he was a very neat guy.”

Walter Armstrong, who was Vicksburg police chief from 2009 to 2017, called Arp a people person.

“He cared about the community and he wanted to do all he could to contribute to the safety of not only Vicksburg but just safety in general,” he said. “During the time I was police chief, he would go out of his way to draw attention to public safety.”

Armstrong said he would visit Arp during his stunts and talk to him about crime prevention.

“We would have a conversation about what could be done to be able to get people involved and helping to keep our community safe,” he said. “Doug was a guy who spent many years in law enforcement, and over the last several years, I would see him at various law enforcement functions even after he had stopped being in law enforcement even after his retirement.”

Armstrong said Arp will be missed, adding, “I know of no other person who has gone to that great extent to make sure that one law enforcement is recognized in a positive way, but more importantly that the citizens are kept safe at all costs.

“He dedicated much of his time to make sure that everybody recognized and understood the importance of public safety.”

Funeral services for Arp will be held Friday, Sept. 15, at , Fisher-Riles Funeral Home, 5000 Indiana Ave., with services to directly follow. Visitation will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

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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