Senate green-lights county radar bill
Feb 8, 2006, 04:04 PM

If you're in the habit of speeding on county roads, you might soon need to hit the brakes.

The Senate has approved a bill that would let sheriffs in 28 Mississippi counties including Forrest, Lamar, Jones, and Pearl River use radar.

This is the farthest the proposal has gotten after years of failed attempts.

The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

Other article:

Senate Plan Would Allow Radar In 28 Counties For Two Years

Mary Louise Stevens lives in Openwood Plantation, a bustling but unincorporated area of Warren County. She's fed up with speeders zooming down the main street of her neighborhood.

"It's like a racetrack,'' Stevens said. "I'm not going to say that it's all teenagers, but it is. We need some way to try to do something about the speeding out here.''

Current state law bans most other sheriffs and deputies around the state from using radar. Stevens said she was encouraged to hear that Mississippi senators voted Wednesday to set up a two-year program that would let sheriffs in 28 counties - including hers - use radar to enforce speed limits on rural roads.

The bill moves to the House, and it's unclear whether it has a chance of surviving there. Radar bills have died for years at the Mississippi Capitol.

Supporters say the use of radar would help in places where the population is growing outside city limits.

Sen. Charlie Ross, R-Brandon, said traffic is so heavy in parts of Rankin County that officials have put up extra stop signs to control the flow of vehicles. He said radar could eliminate the need for some of those signs.

"In Rankin County, we need this desperately. In Madison County, we need this desperately. In Hinds County, we need this desperately,'' said Ross, whose district includes residential and shopping areas near the Ross Barnett Reservoir.

Opponents worry that some sheriffs might start issuing more speeding tickets as a way to generate revenue for the county budget.

Sen. Terry Brown, R-Columbus, said his home county - Lowndes - has had permission for the sheriff and deputies to use radar for 20 years, and he doesn't think the practice has significantly reduced speeding.

The Senate bill started as a proposal in only the 15 counties with the highest rate of injuries per mile driven on county roads. Lowndes is one of those counties. Thirteen other counties were added by senators whose sheriffs want the authority to use radar.

The counties now included in the bill are: Adams, Coahoma, Copiah, Clay, DeSoto, Harrison, Hinds, Jackson, Forrest, Jones, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lee, Leflore, Lafayette, Lowndes, Madison, Neshoba, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Pearl River, Pike, Quitman, Rankin, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Winston.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said his office got 214 emergency calls last year from people begging him and his deputies to stop chronic speeders on rural roads. He said calls also frequently came in on non-emergency lines.

"You hear about people doing 40, 50, 60 (mph) in school zones, but I'm powerless to do anything about it,'' Pace said. "It's just not fair to the citizens.''

The bill is Senate Bill 2442.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)