SOUTHAVEN, MS (abc24.com) - If you're driving in the state of Mississippi, not every officer has the power to give you a traffic ticket. Only state troopers or city police are allowed to run radar.
However a few ideas being discussed by state lawmakers could change all that. Cops in DeSoto County certainly hope so, saying it would cut down on deadly accidents around the state.
Southaven cops check for speeders every day.
"If they get out there for a couple of days, you'll notice people will slow down once they know they're in that area running radar," says Captain Johnny Cox.
Captain Cox says slower speeds equal fewer accidents. But city cops' radar is limited to city streets.
There are roads in DeSoto County no one's checking because they're in the county where sheriff's deputies have to clock speeders. That, Cox says, isn't smart. He believes the bill authorizing sheriff departments to use radar would make Mississippians safer.
"It's going to reduce speed which is going to reduce chances of wrecks, and fatalities in wrecks," he says. "In general, it would slow the entire population down in DeSoto County, if people knew every officer had the capabilities of running radar."
Most drivers we spoke with didn't know deputies can't use radar. They have mixed opinions on the bill.
"I just got a ticket," says Whitney Wadsworth. "So I think they should use it only when they're stopped out somewhere. Not when they're driving up and down the road."
"I think that's a good idea," says Dempsey Cooper. "With all the deer and stuff, it probably could save a lot of accidents."
More officers running radar could also generate more money for the state, but that's something Cox says is secondary to safety.
"We don't look at it as a revenue generator," he says. "Nobody should. You should look at it as reducing speed and saving lives."
While they'd like to see it happen, cops aren't optimistic about the bill passing. They say the issue comes up practically every year, and every year, it's gotten shot down.
But it usually gets attention too. They hope that whatever happens this year, some of that attention causes drivers to slow down.