Rural Radar Debate

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Meridian, Miss. As the Mississippi Legislature continues its work for the 2015 session, one of the issues that's expected to come up again for consideration is the proposed use of radar in rural areas. Among the supporters for the use of radar by county sheriff departments are Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie and Kemper County Sheriff James Moore.

In previous years the Mississippi Sheriffs Association has unsuccessfully lobbied lawmakers for the right to use radar to identify speeders on county roadways.

House Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden, of Meridian, says he would not be surprised if the proposal is presented during this term.

"The legislature has not supported this in the past; I believe probably as a whole that it would not support radar for counties and smaller municipalities now. I just don't think that that's in the works," says Snowden.

Despite this fact, Rep. Snowden says he supports the issue.

"The legislature years ago prohibited smaller municipalities and counties from having radar for reasons that I guess are historic related to speed traps,I guess, and those sorts of things. I've always supported it. I think it's a public safety issue," says Snowden. "I believe that our law enforcement today is not what it was 50 years ago. I think they're professionals. I think they would do it with a public safety emphasis on what they're doing."

Expressing concerns, especially about younger drivers who sometimes speed on county roads, Snowden feels that the use of rural radar would not lead to 'speed traps,' but instead save lives.

"We have so many good roads now around our county where you can drive about as fast as you dare, if you're not obeying the law; we have so many young people out there that are doing that. My own opinion is that rural radar would probably be a good thing in the hands of an effective law enforcement agency," says Snowden.

The Mississippi Code of 1972 prohibits county sheriff departments from using radar to clock speeders. The devices are only used by most city police departments, and the Mississippi Highway Patrol.