ROD GUAJARDO | The Natchez Democrat — Vidalia City Court Judge George Murray, from left, hands Vidalia Police Chief Arthur Lewis and Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland a $15,000 check for new dashboard mounted police radar systems. The court’s donation will be matched by another $15,000 from the police department to pay for the 10 new systems.
ROD GUAJARDO | The Natchez Democrat — Vidalia City Court Judge George Murray, from left, hands Vidalia Police Chief Arthur Lewis and Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland a $15,000 check for new dashboard mounted police radar systems. The court’s donation will be matched by another $15,000 from the police department to pay for the 10 new systems.

Donation helps Vidalia police acquire radar systems

Published 12:05am Friday, October 4, 2013

VIDALIA — Vidalia police officers will soon have a new tool to catch residents exceeding the speed limit.

Ten dashboard-mounted police radar systems will soon be ordered and installed in VPD patrol cars thanks to a generous donation by Vidalia City Judge George Murray.

Murray gave the police department a $15,000 check Thursday morning. Those funds will be matched by $15,000 from the police department, Chief Arthur Lewis said.

The court’s donation, Murray said, comes through funds from a pre-trial diversion program, which allows first-time, non-violent offenders in Louisiana to pay fines and participate in educational classes for a dismissal of the charge.

“Those are mostly speeding, running red lights or other traffic violations,” Murray said. “Hopefully, this will help with public safety in our city.

“If residents know more officers have the radars, maybe they won’t be as likely to speed.”

The 10 new radars, Lewis said, would be an addition to the five currently installed in other patrol units, as well as several handheld radars.

“Before, officers would have to share the units with the radars already in the cars,” Lewis said. “This is going to help us expand the tools we have available to help deter accidents in our city.”

In May, Lewis ordered a crackdown on traffic violations hoping it would curb the 75 traffic accidents that had occurred in the previous three months.

Since his officers began more strictly enforcing traffic laws, such as speed limits, red lights and stop signs, Lewis said accidents in Vidalia have decreased significantly.

“We’ve seen accidents go down to almost nothing and that’s what we’re most concerned with,” Lewis said. “We’re not a revenue generating department for the city, so our main goal is and always will be to protect and serve the citizens of Vidalia.”