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The Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office wants a change in the city law to give it some of the same powers as the city's police department -- including certain protections from civil liability if they injure or kill someone.

According to a spokesperson from the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office, the changes will remove inconsistencies in the state law.

"We already have the same protections as Virginia Beach police officers (qualified immunity, etc.)," sheriff’s office spokesperson Kathy Hieatt said in an email. "This ordinance does not alter or expand existing liability protections."

In a written statement to the council, the VBSO said its deputies have been assisting the police department "with law enforcement issues at the Oceanfront and for certain events when requested by the police department."

It added that the change will allow deputies to issue summonses for city code offenses.

Currently the city code makes it clear that police officers can direct traffic, parking and enforce leash laws. It also requires people to provide identification to a police officer if requested. 

The VBSO wants to change the reference from "police officer" to "law enforcement officer" in the code so deputies can do these functions as well.

The code also protects police officers from civil liability if they injure or kill a person brandishing -- or appearing to brandish -- a firearm

If city council approves the VBSO's proposal, the code will extend these protections to deputies as well.

The Virginia state code gives immunity to police officers confronted by someone brandishing a firearm. It refers specifically to "police officers" - not "law enforcement officers." However, the state code has other provisions that give sheriff's deputies law enforcement powers and immunity from liability.

Clarification: Sheriff's deputies have immunity under state law. Virginia Beach's proposed change would explicitly extend immunity to deputies in city code. A VBSO spokesperson said it does not change deputies' civil protections.