Expanded speed radar use dies in Mississippi

| 5/5/2008

An effort to expand the use of radar by sheriff’s deputies in Mississippi once again failed to gain passage in the statehouse.

State law now restricts the use of speed radar detection equipment to the Mississippi Highway Patrol, city police departments and the Lowndes County sheriff’s department.

Cities with populations of fewer than 2,000 are prohibited from using radar on their public streets, while populations of more than 15,000 can use radar on federal highways within their boundaries.

Efforts to expand radar use in the state historically have struggled as opponents say the enforcement tool could be used to set up speed traps and rake in revenue from tickets. Supporters say the use of radar would help curb speeding and save lives in places where the population is growing outside city limits.

Multiple attempts this year to make changes to speed radar rules again came up short. Although various deadlines killed most bills, the Senate approved another bill to give county sheriffs the green light to use radar detection devices. However, it later stalled in a House committee.

Sponsored by Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, the measure – SB2206 – sought to allow sheriffs in all counties to use radar on roads under the jurisdiction of the board of supervisors for maintenance and construction. Sheriffs could have used the devices only on public streets, roads and highways of the county lying outside the limits of municipalities.

State troopers also would have been given authority to patrol any roads in counties.

Another bill that was left in committee – HB571 – called for expanding speed radar use only to allow the sheriff in Rankin County access to the equipment.

The radar use bills can be brought back for consideration during the 2009 regular session.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Mississippi in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor