Marcus Alert

About the Marcus-David Peters Act and Marcus Alert 

Photo for Home Page Resized.jpg

The Marcus-David Peters Act was signed into law in late 2020 by Governor Ralph Northam, and named for Marcus-David Peters: a young, Black biology teacher who was killed by Richmond police in 2018 while experiencing a mental health crisis. 

The act aims to ensure that the emergency response to a behavioral health crisis is a behavioral health response and will lead to the creation of a mental health alert system (“Marcus Alert”), with coordination at state, regional, and local levels. 

Learn more about Marcus Alert and the State’s Legislation: § 37.2-311.1. Comprehensive crisis system; Marcus alert system; powers and duties of the Department related to comprehensive mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disability crisis services (

Marcus Alert Protocols 

Marcus Alert is a foundation for individuals experiencing a crisis related to mental health, substance use, or a developmental disability. By creating a collaboration between 911, the regional crisis call center, local first responders, and regional mobile teams, Marcus Alert ensures that the emergency response to a behavioral health crisis is a behavioral health response. With in-place protocols, the Arlington County Behavioral Health Crisis Response System provides an umbrella of restorative approaches and services through diversion methods.  

  • Protocol 1: 9-1-1 Public Safety will transfer behavioral health calls to regional crisis call centers
  • Protocol 2: Formalize agreements between law enforcement and mobile crisis teams
  • Protocol 3: Develop specialized responses for law enforcement when responding to behavioral health events

What is the role of the Marcus Alert Stakeholder Group? 

AMarcus Alert Logo.png s Virginia localities plan, develop, and implement the requirements of the Marcus-David Peters Act, they must form a local Stakeholder Group to identify opportunities, goals, and capacity to draft our Marcus Alert Local Plan. Arlington’s Stakeholder Group is representative of the community and is composed of individuals from local agencies, nonprofits, law enforcement, private practices, and advocacy organizations. Additional members include individuals and families with lived experiences with mental health, substance use, or a developmental disability, and/or involvement with the criminal justice system. 

Arlington’s Stakeholder Group is divided into two subgroups: a Mission Group, and a Technical Group. The Mission Group will set priorities, establish timelines, receive regular updates from staff, review implementation progress, and make recommendations for action. The Technical Group will examine the County's current behavioral health crisis system, gather input from the community, and use this input to draft a Marcus Alert local plan. The local plan will create a more responsive, health-focused, trauma-informed behavioral health crisis system.