STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - After Marcus Peters was fatally shot by Richmond Police in 2018 while experiencing a mental health crisis, his family has been calling to implement the “Marcus Alert” system.
Now, the Staunton Equity Coalition is working to get the alert enacted in Staunton.
The alert would call for “a community care team composed of mental health professionals, care recovery specialists with lived experience in mental health recovery, and one police officer,” Meghan Kramer of the Staunton Equity Coalition explained.
The team would be a part of the police staff and they would be the ones responding to wellness checks or mental health crisis calls.
The community care team would also be the ones to decide if police would need to intervene with non-lethal force.
The Treatment Advocacy Center reports that people with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during an encounter with police.
“Just trying to make sure it is professionals dealing with these things. It keeps police more safe. It keeps citizens more safe, and it makes sure that a mental health crisis isn’t a death sentence and it doesn’t lead to incarceration,” Kramer said. “It forms some trust with the police department. If you are in the middle of a mental health crisis, you need an ally. Thinking that you’re in trouble, hearing sirens, seeing lights is an escalating situation.”
The Richmond City Council voted unanimously on Monday to “establish a “workgroup” to develop a plan and recommendations for the implementation of the “Marcus Alert” program by Oct. 1, 2020.”
The Staunton Equity Coalition has reached out to Staunton City Council and has created a petition for community members to show their support.