Casino town wants earlier last call to curb crime

VICKSBURG, Miss. - The city of Vicksburg is asking the state of Mississippi to pull resort status from four nightclubs, cutting off liquor sales at 2 a.m. to help control crime in the wee hours.

"We've been working for a while on trying to resolve issues after 2 a.m. (involving liquor sales)," City Attorney Nancy Thomas told The Vicksburg Post. "Most clubs and bars in the city have to close at 2, but there are some that have been designated as resorts that can stay open all night. We've had problems with law enforcement issues, disturbing the neighborhood issues."

"I think it's worth noting that we believe there is a relation between high crime and the serving of alcohol past 2 o'clock," Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. "We think this is something necessary so that we will be able to take our law enforcement and be able to protect the residential areas and commercial areas rather than trying to focus all our attention on the hot spots."

Police Chief Walter Armstrong called the problems caused by bars and clubs remaining open under resort status "a very serious matter. The call volume has been extremely high."

The action taken last week by city officials does not affect Vicksburg's casinos, which are a major tourist attraction for the Mississippi River city.

Under state law, those designated resort areas are exempt from the ordinance that prohibits the sale of alcohol provisions from between 2 and 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and from 2 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, and can legally sell alcohol 24 hours a day.