Radar for sheriff

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 26, 2004

Despite failed efforts for many years, county officials are asking local delegates to take another run at passing legislation to allow sheriff deputies to use radar equipment on county roads.

Today, only municipal police and Highway Patrol officers can use radar equipment to enforce speed limits. Bills are introduced every year to let counties use radar, but most never make it out of committee.

Masterson has already filed a general bill to let sheriffs across the state start using radar equipment and supervisors say they have another angle they’d like to see tried.

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“Is it possible to pass radar for gaming counties only?” asked County Board President Charles Selmon.

Chaney said he is already looking at a bill that would authorize sheriffs in counties with populations over 30,000, that have gambling and where interstates run through the county. That would include Warren County and most of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“I can’t tell you it will pass,” Chaney said.

Chaney said that the problem with passing radar laws has been that some legislators are concerned about sheriffs in rural counties using speed traps to generate revenue. He said that should not be a perceived problem in counties with gambling because of the revenue generated by casinos.

Housing inmates

City officials say they could save taxpayers money if lawmakers would authorize Vicksburg to contract with a private prison in Louisiana to house inmates.

The city spends about $400,000 annually to house prisoners of misdemeanor crimes in the Issaquena County Jail. The jail there charges $30 daily per inmate, but Leyens said the city has negotiated a $13 per day rate with a private prison in Louisiana.

“We can save a tremendous amount of money by not having to have two officers going back and forth to Issaquena County each day,” Leyens said.

Masterson, who represents part of Issaquena County, said he had initially opposed a bill introduced last year because he was concerned about the effect on Issaquena, but that he would support it now. Flaggs said he would also support such a bill this year.

Last year’s bill failed in the Senate where Chaney said they are likely to have problems again this year.

“What happens if you have a wreck after you get across the river?” Chaney asked. “We’re going to ask a lot of questions on the Senate side.”

One problem facing the city when it comes to housing inmates is that the Warren County Jail is often filled with felony convicts and cannot turn away state prisoners. The City of Vicksburg does not have its own jail facility for misdemeanor inmates.