Mississippi is one of only two states that limits which law enforcement agencies can use radar to catch speeders. Only a handful of county sheriff's departments can use radar in the state while any city police department is allowed to use the speed detection device.
One local sheriff says it's a matter of making his citizens safer.
We're on a stretch of road residents tell us in notorious for speeders. We brought our own radar gun to check it out. And we found out why Rankin County Sheriff Ronnie Pennington is pushing the state legislature so hard to arm his deputies with a gun that doesn't need bullets.
"I heard the bang and I looked up and saw the s-u-v doing a flip," said Rankin County resident, Tom McKay.
This three car accident happened right in front of Tom McKay's home on highway 4-68 in Rankin County...speed was a factor in sending two drivers to the hospital.
"They just drive wild, like there's no speed limit out here whatsoever and the deputy sheriffs can't do much...they don't have radar," said McKay.
That's where Rankin County Sheriff Ronnie Pennington's hands are tied. The state legislature has to pass a bill that would allow citizens to vote to give their county deputies radar.
"We've been petitioning legislation at least nine years trying to get radar, but it's never come out of the house, it's turned down every time," said Pennington.
Sheriff Pennington says the legislature's hesitancy to vote on radar dates back to the old days of the speed trap where certain agencies would raise money by giving out speeding tickets.
"We wouldn't ask for one cent out of it just give us the tool to slow the speeders down," said Pennington.
We decided to see for ourselves. The speed limit on this stretch of 4-68 is 55 miles per hour. With our own radar gun and no authority to stop anyone, we clocked drivers. The surprise is not how fast they were driving, but how much they slowed down at the sight of our radar gun. And that's the point Sheriff Pennington is trying to make to the state transportation committee, so far to no avail.
"If I could get enough radar for two or three cars, speeders out there not gonna know what car has radar and which ones don't, at least they know the Rankin County Sheriff's Department have radar," said Pennington.
A possibility that will now have to wait until the next legislative session in January, 2008.
Right now, city police departments like Brandon, Pearl, Florence and Richland all use radar. Sheriff Pennington is quick to point out though, the county, now has a higher population than do the municipalities. Another reason, he says they need speed detection radar.