The Marcus Alert is a Virginia law named for Marcus-David Peters, a 24-year-old teacher who was killed while in a mental health crisis by a Richmond City Police officer on May 14, 2018.
It was signed into law in late 2020 by Gov. Ralph Northam, and it provides a multi-stage, phased timeline and a framework for localities to follow to improve response to mental health crises.
This initiative aims to shift the current paradigm in which law enforcement is the de facto response to behavioral health emergencies.
- 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.
Improved policies, protocols, and outcomes are expected as a result of the implementation of the Act, with specific benefits expected for Black Virginians, Indigenous Virginians, and Virginians of Color due to existing racial disparities in behavioral health care access and law enforcement involvement and outcomes