Expanded speed radar use nixed in Mississippi

A legislative effort in the Mississippi statehouse to expand the use of speed cameras in the state has died.

Officials in one central Mississippi town sought a green light from the state to post speed radar detection equipment along two thoroughfares within city limits. Two bills offered during the recently completed regular session would have granted them that authority.

The bills – HB1569 and SB3097 – remained in committee at the close of the session, effectively killing them for the year.

Sponsored by Rep. Edward Blackmon Jr., D-Canton, and Sen. Joseph Thomas, D-Yazoo City, the legislation called for granting the city of Canton permission to post speed radar cameras on Interstate 55 and U.S. 51. The town recently annexed land that includes new sections of I-55.

State law now restricts the use of speed radar detection equipment to the Mississippi Highway Patrol and certain cities’ police departments. Cities with populations less than 2,000 are prohibited from using radar on their public streets while cities of more than 15,000 can use radar on federal highways within their boundaries.

Canton doesn’t qualify for the expanded authority because the last census in 2000 listed the city’s population at less than 13,000.

Townsfolk say city police need the expanded authority to help them cope with the increased area of coverage, the Madison County Journal reported. They also say that by the time the next census rolls around in 2010 the population of the city will eclipse the 15,000-population threshold.