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Marcus Alert in effect for parts of Virginia to help with mental health crisis calls

The goal is to keep those experiencing a mental health crisis out of jail

The Marcus Alert system is now in effect for parts of Virginia.

VIRGINIA – The Marcus Alert system is now in effect in five regions across Virginia.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed the legislation last year after the General Assembly passed several police reforms.

The law aims to reform the response to mental health crisis calls and reduce the role of law enforcement when possible.

If someone calls 911 suffering a mental health situation, a trained expert will get involved with the caller.

On Dec. 1, five regions launched pilot programs, which includes:

  • Region 1: Orange, Madison, Culpeper, Fauquier and Rappahannock Counties
  • Region 2: Prince William County
  • Region 3: City of Bristol and Washington County, including the Towns of Abingdon, Damascus, and Glade Spring
  • Region 4: City of Richmond
  • Region 5: City of Virginia Beach

”All we had were police. If someone calls and says they are suffering a mental health crisis, we would send the police. Now, we have this additional tool,” said Richmond Department of Emergency Communications Director Stephen Willoughby.

Officials say this new way of thinking involves collaboration.

The goal is to keep those experiencing a mental health crisis out of jail.

NBC 12 in Richmond reports that police will only know you are being treated for mental health if the individual provides it through the emergencyprofile.org website, and only if they call 911 from the mobile phone number listed.

Click here for more information about Marcus Alert.