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Attend the Marcus Alert Community Listening Sessions

SAARA's Executive Director, Victor McKenzie Jr., in his role on the Marcus Alert Planning Committee, encourages our SAARA community to join the Marcus Alert Community Listening Sessions.


The "Marcus Alert System", put in place by the Marcus-David Peters Act, is named after Marcus-David Peters--a 24 year old black man killed by Richmond police on May 14, 2018, while experiencing a mental health crisis. The Marcus Alert Planning Committee, along with the upcoming listening sessions, are designed to ensure justice in the application of this Act.


The listening sessions are supported by DBHDS and the Marcus Alert Planning Committee. See below for further description and meeting information:



The Marcus-David Peters Act is a comprehensive approach to ensuring that Virginia provides a health-focused, therapeutic response to behavioral health emergencies and decreases reliance on law enforcement responses. The first requirement is a comprehensive plan for statewide implementation to be provided to the General Assembly by July 1, 2021.


The state plan will provide the framework that each locality must use to write a more specific local plan. We are seeking input from community members, particularly those with lived experience with mental health or substance use disorders, developmental disabilities, law enforcement involvement, temporary detention, or emergency custody as an individual or family member.


We want to hear what is most important to consider. This could include:

  • Who responds when someone calls for help, like mental health workers, peer supports, law enforcement, or others 

  • When different response teams should be sent 

  • What type of response you would want for yourself or your loved ones during a behavioral health emergency 

  • Where teams should respond, like homes or schools 

  • Why these reforms are important to you or your community 

  • How we should monitor or measure if the plans are improving outcomes or not

The first three virtual listening sessions will be as follows:


Session 1: February 28th, 2021, 4 pm

Topic: Marcus Alert Community Listening Session

Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://dbhds.zoomgov.com/j/1609061173?pwd=Z1YwVnRTdDlGcnMyeStOcFFpbGNHZz09

Passcode: Virginia1!


Session 2: March 3rd, 2021, 7 pm

Topic: Marcus Alert Community Listening Session #2

Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://dbhds.zoomgov.com/j/1605438899?pwd=ZkU4QmMxbktwdWZiaklBL0w3OHVaQT09

Passcode: Virginia1!

*this session will have live Spanish interpretation for first two hours


Session 3: March 6th, 2021, 2 pm

Topic: Marcus Alert Community Listening Session #3

Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://dbhds.zoomgov.com/j/1619504729?pwd=REtKc3RZSlJ6UUVGWk5IQ0RjTDN6Zz09

Passcode: Virginia1!

*this session will have Spanish and ASL interpretation for first two hours


The comments and feedback will be used to write the state plan. Each local community will also be required to gather community input to develop the local plan. If you prefer to provide written comments for consideration, please email your input to marcusalert@dbhds.virginia.gov. Comments received before April 1 will be reviewed prior to the development of the state plan, but comments will continued to be reviewed until the plan is submitted. The sessions will also be recorded.

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