DeSoto County Sheriff wants to use radar to catch speeders

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. -- The DeSoto County Sheriff's Office said one key in keeping the roads safe is out of their hands.

Deputies want to run radar to catch excessive speeders but can't because it's against state law.

"There's really nothing we can do," said Deputy Alex Coker. "I can slow them down and possibly write them a ticket for careless driving. That's ridiculous."

Law prevents deputies across the state from using radar to catch speeders.

For decades, they're the only law enforcement agency not allowed to use the device.

"They know we don't have radar in these cars. They just blow right by like that guy is doing right there," said Coker pointing to a possible speeder in a school zone.

To prove a point, Coker and DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco borrowed a radar gun and clocked speeders last week.

They caught several drivers flying through a 45 mile per hour zone.

"We have had cars come by at 70-72 miles per hour," said Rasco pointing to cars.

He as well as other sheriffs challenge lawmakers to change policy.

WREG found bills filed in the senate and house this session authorizing deputies to use radar, but both failed in committee.

We called lawmakers who chair those committees to find out why but have yet to hear back.

In the past, many opponents said they fear county officials will just use the law to bolster their budgets.

Some residents said they agree.

"Only thing they're going to get is more money for DeSoto county, and they're not doing anything with the money they are getting from Desoto county anyways," said resident Nikki Durdin.

Others differ.

"I would support it News Channel 3! I would support it, because I was driving and someone hit me, because they was speeding," said Jeremy Nesbitt.

Lawmakers from DeSoto County we talked to said they are aware of the sheriff's plea and are looking into the deadline to file legislation.

"This is about safety. This is about slowing folks down," said Coker.

Tunica County Sheriff KC Hamp is president of the Mississippi Sheriff's Association.

In a statement, he told WREG, "The Mississippi Sheriffs’ Association has tried to get radar guns for over 30 years or better. However, by not having radar guns, does not prevent Sheriffs from doing their jobs, as far as enforcing laws, especially traffic laws. The radar gun is a preventive tool that helps save lives. At this point, with the legislation in the State of Mississippi, it’s like whooping a dead horse. At some point, hopefully, we may become one day first in education, as well as, first in public safety."

The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office is the only county authorized to use radar guns.