March 6, 2023

City Council Changes ‘Police’ to ‘Law Enforcement’ in City Code

At the request of Sheriff Ken Stolle, the City Council recently voted to change the wording in City Code to be better aligned with the law enforcement authority granted to deputy sheriffs by the state.

Sheriffs Deputies

At the request of Sheriff Ken Stolle, the City Council recently voted to amend the wording of City Code to be consistent with state law which grants sheriff’s deputies enforcement authority for nonfelony offenses. Previously, the laws on the books only gave enforcement authority to “police officers.” Now, the wording of five different City Codes will use the broader term “law enforcement officers” instead.

Virginia law gives deputy sheriffs the authority to enforce all state and local laws, and the change ensures City Code is in alignment with state law.

Sheriff Stolle requested this change due to increasing cooperation between the police department and the Sheriff’s Office in recent years, particularly for staffing during major special events.

With several large-scale festivals coming to the Oceanfront this season, the Sheriff has also requested body-worn cameras for his deputies.

During the Something in the Water music festival in April, for instance, more than 100 deputies will augment the police department. The Sheriff’s Office believes cameras can improve safety, accountability and transparency in law enforcement and initially wants the cameras for all staff members who provide law-enforcement support services for the Virginia Beach Police Department. However, Stolle is also requesting cameras for those who issue summons, warrants and evictions as well as for deputies who work in the city jail and court buildings.

The Virginia Beach Police Department began using Axon body worn cameras in 2021 and Sheriff Stolle is requesting that deputies receive the same equipment package as police officers to include tasers, which deputies do not currently carry. City Manager Patrick Duhaney supports this change as it affords deputies who are being asked to engage the general public, less lethal ways of enforcing the law.

The sheriff’s office is currently developing a body-worn camera and taser policy which would set forth guidelines, such as when deputies must activate cameras, retention of recordings, and who may access recordings. Those policies will be in alignment with the police department’s policies and follow the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

The City Council has verbally expressed support for this upgrade and will vote on whether to provide $640,000 for 220 cameras on March 21. That isn’t enough cameras for all of the Sheriff’s 440 sworn law-enforcement officers, however, and funding for the additional 280 requested cameras could be approved as a part of the upcoming budget process.

Contact Information

Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office

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