Speeders beware: Sheriff tests radar

By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Nov. 27, 2002
Over the next two to six weeks the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department will use radar gun technology on county roads as part of an educational study.
But, by law, no enforcement action can be taken against speeding drivers.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said the study is intended to supplement a similar collaborative study conducted by the Warren, Madison, Hinds and Rankin county sheriff's departments to collect data and determine the need for radar tools to catch "those who blatantly choose to put themselves and others in harm's way."
He said the Mississippi Sheriff's Association plans to introduce its findings during the next legislative session.
Sollie said sheriff's deputies will use a radar gun that is on loan from the manufacturer to collect data.
Presently, Lowndes County is the only county in Mississippi authorized to use radar technology to enforce speed laws on public roads.
Butch Howard, Lowndes County Sheriff, said the legislation goes back to a deal struck in 1976 authorizing the board of supervisors to purchase radar equipment.
At the time, Howard said, there was a high fatality rate and the sheriff thought radar could be used to bring the numbers down, so he took the initiative.
Howard said the proximity to three universities and the U.S. Air Force Base in Columbus played a part in getting the legislation passed.
Craig Hitt, president of the Lauderdale County board of supervisors, said the board passed a resolution in either 2000 or 2001 allowing the sheriff's department to use radar, but that when the resolution was sent to the Mississippi Legislature for authorization, it was denied.
Any proposed legislation to allow most sheriffs to use radar for enforcing speed laws would likely be referred to committees on County Affairs in the state House and Senate. Previous efforts in that regard have failed.

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