Sheriffs again asking for approval to run radar - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Sheriffs again asking for approval to run radar

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

For 28 years, Mississippi sheriffs have asked the legislature for approval to run radar on county roads. Every time, the bill has died. Another attempt will be made this year. Sheriffs say the tool will help save lives.

The city of Biloxi has run radar for years. Police Chief John Miller wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's very effective. It would be very difficult for us to continue do to our jobs, traffic enforcement the way we do without radar," Miller said. 

Does it slow people down and save lives? Officer John Doucet works in traffic enforcement for Biloxi.  

"When people see you, if they're not speeding, they'll even slow down under the speed limit. And when people are speeding over a certain amount, they'll slow back down to the speed limit," Doucet explained. 

It doesn't take long to prove his point. A stop is made and a ticket issued. Doucet said there's an added benefit to radar. 

"It's another effective tool for us because when we do stop someone for speeding, we come across people that wanted on misdemeanor warrants for our city or other cities. We even come across people that are wanted on felony warrants."

One of the reasons a county radar bill has died in the legislature for the past 28 years is some lawmakers, especially ones from rural counties, say it's nothing more than a money grab for cash starved sheriffs. Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara disagrees with that assessment.  

"If a citation is issued, I don't really know where the money goes to," Brisolara said.  "I know parts of the citation goes to the state, parts of it go the general fund in the county, but it doesn't go directly to the sheriff's office. And they can appropriate the money to go anywhere they want it to. It doesn't need to be coming to the sheriff's office. You don't need a reason to get out there and run radar other than to save lives." 

With seven deaths in the county last year, he said the danger is growing.  

"Our growth is in the rural areas of Harrison County and we have no way to controls speeds. These open long rural roads are turning into dragstrips," Brisolara implored.  

The bill that will be introduced this year will allow radar to be run in the state's five largest counties. That's includes both Harrison and Jackson counties on the coast.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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