The Richmond Human Rights Commission will host and facilitate two virtual Marcus Alert Community Forums where the public can learn about the Marcus Alert, ask questions and offer comments.
Forums will be conducted online via Zoom or members of the public may call in. To join the forum, 6-7:30 p.m., Sept. 22, go to https://zoom.us/j/93318489757 or call 1-646-558-8656 and enter Webinar ID 933 1848 9757. To join the forum 1-2:30 p.m., Sept. 25, go to https://zoom.us/j/99148819970 or call 1-312-626-6799 and enter Webinar ID 991 4881 9970.
If you are not able to attend the Community Forums, but would like to offer comments, please email them. Please make sure the subject line of your email includes "Marcus Alert comments."
A plan for improving response to mental and behavioral health crises in Virginia and Richmond
Use this page to learn more about the Marcus Alert, a piece of Virginia state legislation with the goal of improving response to mental and behavioral health crises. This page will be updated as Richmond moves along the project timeline.
The full Marcus Alert plan is available here.
- Diminish the role of police in response to behavioral health crises.
- Shift primary response to qualified behavioral health professionals.
- Involve police in a supporting role, when necessary, for public safety.
- Prioritize de-escalation and non-lethal force.
- Decriminalize behavioral health crises and reduce stigma.
- Reduce arrests and traumatization; increase treatment and support.
The state Marcus Alert plan was created as a collaboration between:
- Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
- Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services
- Other state agency partners
- Marcus Alert State Planning Stakeholder Group
The plan takes a comprehensive, systems-wide approach to reducing Virginia’s reliance on law enforcement in behavioral health emergencies.
It includes changes at the state and local levels.
Some of the key elements of the state Marcus Alert plan:
- Framework for response levels
- Mobile behavioral health crisis teams
- Option for co-response teams
- Statewide training standards
- Public education campaigns
The full Marcus Alert plan is available here.
Some of the key elements of the Marcus Alert plan in Richmond, one of the first five regions to implement it in the State:
- Voluntary database of health profiles (Now in place. Learn more here.)
- Planning process with stakeholders
- Three protocols for response
- Community resources
The State Marcus Alert plan requires that the localities set up regular meetings with stakeholders in the community to help with getting community input into the local Marcus Alert plan. These stakeholders were invited to virtual meetings in Richmond.
2019-2020: The Richmond internal group met with members of the Marcus-David Peters family and community advocates.
January 2021: The Richmond Marcus Alert Planning Group began meeting semi-weekly. These meetings are ongoing.
May 2021: Invited community and organizational stakeholders began meeting quarterly with the Richmond Planning Group. These meetings are ongoing.
One of the requirements for the Virginia Marcus Alert plan is for localities to set up three protocols for response.
Protocol 1: Agreement and procedures on transferring calls from 911 to Regional Crisis Call Centers. Requires a framework for decision-making and dispatch from 911. The state plan specifies a four-level triage, from Level 1 as routine and Level 4 as emergent.
Protocol 2: Agreement and procedures on using law enforcement as a back-up to mobile crisis teams.
Protocol 3: Specialized procedures for law enforcement responding to behavioral health emergencies.
One of the requirements for the state Marcus Alert plan is for the localities to provide additional community resources. Here are the resources in Richmond:
Currently in place: Richmond Behavioral Health Authority Emergency Services, Residential Crisis Stabilization Unit, Crisis Triage Center.
Operational as of Dec. 1, 2021: Regional Mobile Crisis Teams, Regional Call Center
In development: Richmond Behavioral Health Authority 23-hour observation center
The Richmond Human Rights Commission is hosting and facilitating virtual Community Forums in September to inform the public about the Marcus Alert. Members of the public may ask questions and offer comment at these forums. Learn more. If you are not able to attend a virtual Community Forum, you may email comments.
The Marcus Alert Local Planning Group must submit its plan to the state by Oct. 15, 2021. It will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2021.
The Local Planning Group will continue to meet with the Local Stakeholder Group twice a year.
Other regions will put the Marcus Alert into place by July 2022, and all Virginia localities will have it in place by July 2026.