Last year, speeding was listed as a factor in each of the eight fatal wrecks along the Reservoir, said Reservoir Patrol Chief Perry Waggener.
For six years, Waggener unsuccessfully has pushed for a change in state law that would allow his department to use radar enforcement.
With eight traffic deaths in 2008, Waggener hopes legislators will realize how much radar is needed.
“It creates a burden on us to try and enforce the speed laws,” Waggener said. “You can still enforce the laws without radar, using the pacing method, but the pacing method is much harder to prosecute in court.”
Waggener said he has received support from every police chief and sheriff whose jurisdiction touches the Reservoir Patrol’s enforcement boundaries.
Mississippi law allows radar to be used:
- By the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol on federal and state highways and inside cities with a population of fewer than 15,000.
- By municipal law enforcement officers in cities with a population of 2,000 or more, limited to public streets within the town or city borders.
- By municipal law enforcement officers in any city with a population of more than 15,000. There, radar can be used on federal highways within the corporate limits.
- By any college or university campus police force within the boundaries of any campus where more than 2,000 students are enrolled.
The only county where state law currently allows the use of radar by a sheriff’s department is Lowndes County in east Mississippi.
Between 2000 and 2007, an average of 20 bills a year dealing with sheriff’s departments and radar have been placed before Mississippi lawmakers.
State Sen. Lee Yancey, R-Brandon, has introduced bills in previous years to give the Reservoir Patrol the right to use radar.
Last year’s bill passed in the Senate by one vote but failed in the House, Yancey said.
“A lot of people oppose radar for sheriffs or anyone else who doesn’t have it now.
“They say it will encourage speed-trapping and would be used as a money-making tool for law enforcement,” Yancey said.
Yancey said the bill he plans to introduce this year is strictly for the Reservoir Patrol, and he said none of the money collected from the tickets would go to department.
He also said radar usage would be confined to Spillway Road and Northshore Parkway.
Still, Yancey is not sure how many lawmakers will be willing to grant the authority to the Reservoir Patrol.
“There are people who think that if you give it to the Reservoir Patrol, why not give it to the sheriffs,” Yancey said. “But areas with really dense population are suffering because of that. This area has grown so much in the last 10 years, and the traffic count is overwhelming. Without any real way to enforce the speed limit, the spillway has turned into a speedway.”
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.