Virginia Beach to host community listening sessions ahead of Marcus Alert implementation

Virginia Beach Oceanfront
Posted at 7:16 AM, Aug 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-22 07:16:44-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia Beach's Department of Human Services will hold two virtual community listening sessions to gather public feedback on the city's implementation of the Marcus Alert.

The Marcus Alert, signed into law in late 2020, is a statewide mental health alert system making sure behavioral health experts are involved in responding to people in crisis. It's named to honor Marcus-David Peters, a high school biology teacher killed by police in Richmond while experiencing a behavioral health crisis in 2018.

Virginia Beach's DHS says it's seeking input from community members, especially those who have firsthand experience with mental health or substance use disorders, developmental disabilities, law enforcement involvement, temporary detention, or emergency custody as an individual or family member.

“When we consider our response model, it’s essential that we hear from individuals who have a vested interest in how we approach someone calling out for help,” said Angela Hicks, DHS Deputy Director for Behavioral Health & Developmental Services. “We want to hear from those who have been through the process, or the friends and loved ones who have been there to help someone with their recovery. We want to hear about what is important to our community for us to consider.”

Some of the questions DHS is seeking feedback on include:

  • Who should respond when someone calls for help during a behavioral health crisis (mental health clinicians, peer specialists, law enforcement, a combination of supports, or others)?
  • What type of response you would want for yourself or your loved ones during a behavioral health emergency?
  • Where teams should respond (like homes, schools or other community locations)?
  • What would make you feel more comfortable reaching out for help early on?
  • What kind of follow-up or ongoing supports would be helpful to individuals who enter our services while in crisis?

The listening sessions will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, August 25 and 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 2. Click the links to register for one of the sessions.

Written responses will also be accepted from those who are unable to attend or would prefer not to speak openly. To submit your thoughts in writing, email

To learn more about the city's implementation of the Marcus Alert, click here.