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 Marcus Alert

Marcus Alert is a statewide mental health framework designed to ensure that behavioral health experts are involved in responding to individuals in crisis. The law is named in honor of Marcus David-Peters, a high school biology teacher who was killed by a police officer in Richmond while experiencing a behavioral health crisis in 2018.

​Marcus Alert, sometimes called the Marcus David-Peters Act, is a law passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020 that directs localities throughout the Commonwealth to "develop and establish a mental health awareness response and community understanding services (Marcus) alert system." Virginia Beach is one of the first communities in the state, and the only in our region, to implement the Marcus Alert system. By July 1, 2026, all community services boards and behavioral health authorities throughout Virginia will need to establish a Marcus Alert system.

The Marcus Alert framework can be distilled down to four fundamental goals:

  • Limiting the involvement of law enforcement officers (to the safest extent possible for all parties)
  • Diverting individuals away from the criminal justice system and instead to resources and supports for treatment and recovery
  • Achieving positive outcomes for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis
  • Increasing awareness and understanding of available mental health resources in our community
After soliciting community and stakeholder feedback, the Department of Human Services submitted a draft copy of our community's implementation plan to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services on Oct. 15, 2021, for their feedback and approval. 

 About Marcus Alert

Local Information

Marcus Alert Legislation

The complete bill that was passed in 2020.

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services (DBHDS)

Information on the state implementation and stakeholder groups.

Bill Signing

Press release from the Governor's Office from the bill signing on Dec. 15, 2020.


​What is Marcus Alert?

In short, Marcus Alert is a set of protocols that emergency responders will use to respond to individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The goal is to provide an appropriate behavioral health response for those experiencing a behavioral health crisis and facilitate a specialized law enforcement response to behavioral health crisis situations. A tiered response system is being developed that will determine how behavioral health professionals and first responders will approach a given situation.

Why was Virginia Beach chosen as one of the initial sites?

Virginia Beach already has many pieces of the Marcus Alert system already in place: an established mobile co-responder team, where behavioral health clinicians respond alongside law enforcement officers; Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained staff and first responders; a crisis stabilization center; same-day access; and a robust continuum of care availalbe to the community.

Is this like an Amber Alert that let's the public know to look out for an individual?

No. This is not an alert in the sense that the public will be informed that someone is in crisis or that responders need assistance locating someone. As mentioned previously, it's a set of protocols used by first responders to assist an individual in crisis.

Do I need to do anything?

If someone in your household has a behavioral health condition, you are encouraged to created a Smart 911 safety profile. This free and confidential service provides 911 call-takers with important information - information that YOU choose to share - that can then be passed along to first responders. Your profile is only visible to the 911 call center when you place a call and for a brief window after. Learn more about Smart 911 at this link. The Marcus Alert law requires all localities in Virginia to establish a database, however participation in the service from individuals in any community is 100% voluntary.

Contact Information