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Wesson wise to seek AG’s opinion

The Town of Wesson is wise to seek an Attorney General’s opinion on its police department’s use of radar.

Town officials could very well be correct that its population numbers meet the threshold that state law requires for radar use. But better to know for sure than run the risk of handing out speeding tickets without the proper authority.

Alderman-at-Large Stephen Ashley brought the matter up at a board meeting this week. His concern is that the town’s use of speed-detection radar will come back to bite the city without an AG opinion.

“I think we’re in violation of state law, and we’re going to have some issues here with fines we’ve assessed when we didn’t have the right,” Ashley said. “We’ve got a problem here if somebody calls our hand.  My issue doesn’t have anything to do with whether radar is good or bad, or if people should be speeding, it’s about whether or not it’s legal for us to run radar.”

State law requires towns to have at least 2,000 residents in order to use radar. The town’s population is below that number but it is allowed to count Copiah-Lincoln Community College in its population total.

The problem is that there are different population totals depending on which source is used, and no one seems to know why.

The 2010 U.S. Census puts the Town of Wesson’s population at 1,925. But the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District in 2011 arrived at a final figure of 2,017.

The issue is not whether the use of radar is good or bad, but rather if the town has legal authority to use it. Other aldermen seemed frustrated that Ashley brought up the matter.

“Do you want somebody coming in front of your house at 40 or 50 mph and hitting one of your kids?” Ward 2 Alderman Jarrad Ashley said.

No one wants speeding to go unchecked in Wesson, but it must follow the law when it comes to radar use. An AG’s opinion on the matter should settle things once and for all.