Public Comments for 08/25/2020 Public Safety
Last Name: campblin Locality: fairfax

Although not the only course of action needed to address incidences of excessive police force or abuse of power, Civilian Review Boards can serve as an intregal tool to ensuring more equitable policing and allows for greater transparency. Furthermore, it increases community engagement and level of trust by providing residents an opportunity to seek remedies for failed interactions with the police. Further more, the CRB must be allowed to function outside of the police department, and must not become a politicized board.

Last Name: Patterson Organization: Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police-Member Locality: Suffolk

Chairman Hope, Vice Chairman Bourne, and members of the Public Safety Committee, I am writing you today to lend my support to HB 5104. If we want to continue to be transparent and hire qualified officers to fill our ranks then this information listed in the code will be paramount. More times than not officers do not want to work with officers who are believed to be corrupt or know they have prior incidents that would smear their reputation as well as the agencies reputation. Having the ability to obtain this information is critical to ensuring our hiring processes are above board. I would like to see a section added to address agencies who fail to disclose the information required, either by omission or commission. Thank you for your time. Steve Patterson, Chief of Police City of Franklin Police Department 1018 Pretlow Street Franklin, Virginia 23851

Last Name: Patterson Organization: Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police-Member Locality: Suffolk

Chairman Hope, Vice Chairman Bourne, and members of the Public Safety Committee, I am writing you today to lend my support to HB 5044. I feel that in order to effectively police a community you have to be transparent and timely in that transparency. I support HB 5044 and agree time limits should be implemented as well as keeping the complainant updated when an investigation into misconduct does not get completed prior to the deadline. I request that you add Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission to the code as a reference for time limits. As a small rural city police department we cannot afford the CALEA accreditation. We are working toward our VLPSC accreditation which is much more affordable to us. Thank you for your time. Steve Patterson, Chief of Police City of Franklin Police Department 1018 Pretlow Street Franklin, Virginia 23851

Last Name: Patterson Organization: Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police-Member Locality: Suffolk

Chairman Hope, Vice Chairman Bourne, and members of the Public Safety Committee, I am writing to support House Bill 5051. Over my 25 years of law enforcement experience I have seen numerous times where officers are terminated, or allowed to resign in lieu of termination, for policy violations involving moral turpitude issues. These officers have eventually been hired as a certified officer at another law enforcement agency. Seeing this then makes me question the decisions of other law enforcement agencies as to whether they are actually doing a background versus trying to fill an opening. These examples erode the trust we need to maintain with the communities we serve. Therefore I feel a formalized, further inclusive, decertification process is warranted through DCJS. With this being said though, I have two hesitations about the bill. The first is section B iv and v where it speaks about decertifying for policy violations. It has been my experience that some officers just cannot comprehend the paperwork, the processes, the call volume, and speed at which the agency runs. They may be excellent police officers who treat everyone fairly, non biased, execute force by the letter of the policy, and do their best to be a police officer in the locality they were hired but they cannot adapt to the culture or environment. They end up with policy violations for administrative violations of policy, not use of force or biased policing violations, and in the end then end up terminated through progressive discipline due to administrative failures and not serious allegations of misconduct. I would ask you look at this portion and work with DCJS to list out a comprehensive, ever evolving, list of policy violations that would end up in a decertification. Criminal act, drug usage, theft, biased policing, improper use of force, lying, deception, perjury, etc. would be absolute decertification reasons. Failing to complete administrative tasks should not be a decertification reason especially when we are having issues trying to find police officers as it is now. An administratively struggling officer may find that in a smaller, slower paced, Department they can have an excellent career. The second hesitation is in section I. I feel that 3 excessive force complaints in 5 years may be too long of window. If the purpose of the action is to examine misconduct and excessive uses of force, then the window should be 2 to 3 years. A five year window is too broad. Some Departments have Early Warning systems that get triggered with complaints or uses or force occur. From my past experiences if an officer had 3 uses of force, not excessive force complaints, then an alert was generated and the incidents were examined to ensure no patterns of misconduct were occurring. Implementing these early warning measures may curtail more serious incidents from occurring in the future. Once again that you for your time. I support this bill with the comments above. Steve Patterson, Chief of Police City of Franklin Police Department 1018 Pretlow Street Franklin, Virginia 23851

Last Name: Oliver Organization: HOPE Locality: Chesterfield

It has been my experience as a mental health professional who has worked in Richmond City, worked for Henrico Mental Health and Chesterfield County Mental eHalth that our current jails are housing too many mentally ill clients who would be better served in a halfway house or community based program. With the closing of state hospitals, limited private hospital space and limited CSB services clients are finding themselves being ushered into the penal system to get housing, care and mental health services. We need to take a closer look at providing better asessments at intake for jails, and triage clients to mental health services with community monitoring. I think that police officers should get one week training in mental health de-escalation training , mental health identification and nonviolent intervention through verbal skills and verbal judo.

Last Name: Silvera Locality: Woodbridge VA

Good morning members of the committee and chair of the committee, My name is Caroline Silvera and I am an advocate with CASA Virginia. Today I could speak about Osaze Osagie, Deborah Danner, or Miles Hall, all those who had turned to the police for help during a mental crisis and ended up dead in their own homes at the hands of an officer. Instead, unfortunately I am speaking on a murder that happened in my own community, Prince William County. In 2017, 15 year old Ruben Urbina was shot and killed by a police officer outside his home. Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert ruled the shooting justified. Three years later, his family is still seeking justice. People with undiagnosed mental health issues are 16 times more likely to die at the hands of the police. In Virginia, 50% of adults with mental illness receive any form of treatment. As a Latina and child of an immigrant, I know that mental health issues are stigmatized in our community, and that because of this not every person can receive or afford adequate care and treatment. Additionally, under the eyes of racial bias, cries for mental help can be perceived as aggressive or threatening behavior. People like Ruben Urbina should not be killed. My community needs to change how they treat residents with mental health issues, and their black and brown communities. With this bill, the lives of so many people would be protected and saved. I would feel safer. By voting yes to HB 5043, you are voting to protect Virginians with mental health issues, including those low income populations with little access to care. This is a common sense bill that will bring Justice to Ruben and prevent so many unwarranted deaths. Supporting HB 5043 supports the health and wellbeing of the Commonwealth. Thank you, HB 5043 Bourne and Adams

Last Name: Hopper Locality: Charlottesville

Dear House Public Safety Committee Members: My name is Tracey Hopper.  I reside in Charlottesville and have been a licensed Virginia attorney since October, 1996.  I was on the front lines, caring for anti-racist protesters, on August 12th, 2017. I do not support HB 5055, but I do support SB 5035.  Let me explain.   I support SB 5035 because it: 1) Empowers localities (broadly and flexibly) to create civilian oversight of law enforcement that meets their individualized needs;  2) Empowers localities to decide if its civilian oversight body should have subpoena power; and, 3) Empowers localities to decide which complaints its civilian oversight bodies should have final disciplinary authority over. Here are my objections to HB 5055: 1) This bill is a statewide mandate for civilian oversight bodies and disempowers localities and their community members.  It imposes a "one size fits all" framework on Virginia communities that vary greatly.  A statewide mandate is misguided and will have inadvertent negative consequences.   2) This bill defines who can serve on a CRB. (See #1.)  One member has to be the Commonwealth's Attorney under this bill.  That results in "the fox guarding the henhouse".  Most often Commonwealth's Attorney's offices are closely aligned with its local police officers.  Localities, informed by community members, should define who sits on their civilian oversight bodies.  3) This bill defines the scope of civilian oversight.  Localities should be able to define civilian oversight as being more than an entity that waits to respond to police harming the people they are supposed to protect.   4) This bill fails to allow localities to give civilian oversight bodies final disciplinary authority in certain instances. This results in the civilian oversight body being a "white wash" of police misdeeds, giving the oversight body no authority to mete out consequences. Please replace the language of HB 5055 with the language of SB 5035 for the reasons stated above. Then, vote it out of Committee so the full House can vote on it. Thank you. Sincerely, Tracey C. Hopper (434) 465-1988

Last Name: Aguilar Organization: CASA Locality: Woodbridge

Good afternoon members of the committee and chair of the committee, I’m Luis Angel Aguilar, CASA’s Virginia Director and today I speak on behalf of our 10,000 members. We are a community based organization fighting for justice & equity. I want to acknowledge that the Black Lives Matter movement has brought the momentum to have real positive change happen in our communities as well as Marcus’s family. We strongly urge you to consider this legislation because in 2017 our community in Prince William County suffered the loss of Ruben Urbina, a 15 year old, to 2 gunshots by a police officer. Ruben had shown signs of distress the day before and the fact that his life was taken away by two bullets to the chest by a police officer is a sign that the system is not working. We met with the Chief of Police back then, now retired Chief Barry Barnard and he mentioned how the training of the police automatically trains police officers to shoot if they feel the need based on a threat, they will use this type of force. The Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney, Paul Ebert closed the case not more than two days later, as you can imagine, this is completely unacceptable. We ask Virginia to do better, we ask the committee to consider this story and to change how we police our communities, especially black and brown communities. We, as CASA, ask you to support HB5043 by Delegate Bourne, especially given the rise of mental health challenges that people are experiencing during COVID19. Mobile response teams similar to the CAHOOTS program from Eugene, Oregon can save lives by focusing on mental health and homelessness rather than criminalizing community members. We ask you to bring justice to families across the Commonwealth, we ask you to bring justice for Ruben. Thank you,

Last Name: Pence Locality: Richmond

In solidarity with the family of Marcus-David Peters and as a mental health professional, I strongly support the passage of Delegate Bourne’s bill for the Mental Health Awareness Response and Community Understanding Services Alert System and Community Care Teams. Individuals experiencing mental health crises or substance abuse are put in greater danger when confronted by police who are not adequately trained in these areas. For many of these individuals, just the sight of an officer is distressing and can escalate the situation. There should never be a situation in which someone who needs help is met with lethal weapons. Too many of our Black brothers and sisters have died in these tragic situations. The Marcus Alert System is a great first step to truly protect some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. Please vote yes.

Last Name: Gilbert Organization: MPNN CSB Recovery Services Locality: Lancaster

I was heavily involved in the CIT during its early days. CIT never became a collaboration at our agency - too bad because it would be a natural foundation for this effort. I am the Team Leader of a group of peers - people with lived experience - to meet overdose survivors in hospital emergency rooms to encourage them into treatment. I would like to offer our team to take part in a pilot program to explore the effectiveness of a truly collaborative effort. We are all trained in CIT, Mental Health First Aid, Motivational Interviewing and effective deescalation techniques. We are already funded thru a SOR - Recovery Grant and could put this effort into action in a short period of time.

Last Name: Kincaid Locality: FAIRFAX

While there could very well be a benefit to citizen review panels as a concept and when it comes to police departments in localities the inclusion of Sheriff’s Offices under the scope of authority for said panels is problematic. First the review panels would most appropriately be considered an arm of the legislative branch as it is created by the legislative branch and most appropriately would be overseen by the legislative branch. This creates a separation of powers issue. The panel, i.e. the legislative branch, would then have power over and essentially control of the Sheriff’s Offices, i.e. the executive branch. The legislative branch would then by proxy be exercising the core powers of the executive branch by assuming control and supervision of the Sheriff’s Offices. This would be a clear constitutional overstep beyond what is allowed for by each separate branch exercising their own core function in a manner that allows for the checks and balances of the other branches. Second just envision the practicality of an elected official having his or her policies dictated by an appointed panel. Simply put, the citizens elect the Sheriffs to make these decisions not the panel. The panel having control over an elected officials policies and procedures cuts at the very heart of a citizen’s vote. This brings us to the final point that removing Sheriffs from this bill will not absolve these offices from any accountability.

Last Name: Bishop Organization: Virginia Law Enforcement Sheriffs Locality: Richmond

HB5043: VLES supports this measure and would ask the Committee to take the MARCUS Alert System one step further. Specifically, VLES would ask that in the case of a call wherein the MARCUS Alert System is triggered and a TDO transport is required, that the mental health service providers conduct the TDO transport as opposed to the law enforcement officers. This is because it is much more therapeutic for a person in crisis to be transported by mental health service providers than in a patrol car with uniformed officers. HB5049: VLES is opposes this legislation, particularly the ban on the use of non-lethal "kinetic energy munitions." If the Commonwealth's intention is to limit police-involved fatalities, then prohibiting law enforcement's ability to use non-lethal techniques seems to be a step in the wrong direction. HB5108: VLES has two comments. (1) VLES should have one representative on the CJSB Board and the Committee on Training. (2) If civil rights organizations and community interest organizations have representation on the Committee on Training, it should be in a non-voting, advisory capacity. HB5109: VLES supports the requirement that law enforcement officers must undergo a psychological evaluation subsequent to a conditional offer of employment.

Last Name: Green Organization: Campbell County Sheriff's Office Locality: Rustburg

The uses of military surpluses for law enforcement is extremely important for several reasons. When law enforcement is allowed to acquire equipment through military surpluses it saves taxpayer dollars, both state and locally. In several ways, equipment like night vision, thermal vision, ballistic helmets and armored vehicles are extremely expensive. All of these items are to protect not only the officer but also the citizens in dangers situations.

Last Name: Spain Sr Organization: Virginia State Conference NAACP and Region 3-North Locality: Arlington

Good afternoon Distinguished Leaders, I come before you as President of Arlington Branch NAACP and a Regional Vice President of the Virginia State Conference NAACP representing 13 local branches and thousands of our members in Northern Virginia. Shortly after the tragic murder of our George Floyd, National NAACP directed all units to advocate for Civilian Review Boards with Subpoena Power in our local communities. House Bill 5055 is a good start as it mandates localities, on or before July 1, 2021 to establish law-enforcement civilian review panels. We would like it to read three complaints within a three-year period and have deep reservations about the Department of Criminal Justice Services promulgating regulations to implement. A mandate is what the NAACP and thousands of citizens are asking for and is what you should deliver. Anything less than a mandate is a failure Additionally, this bill is missing some elements which are laid out in Senator Hashmi’s Senate Bill 5035. I strongly encourage you to work with your colleagues to find a compromise among these two bills. Your ultimate is to increase confidence in police. According to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, “Civilian oversight works to increase public trust and confidence in the police. The only way you can honestly do this is having independent reviews and audits of polices policies and practices, and by ensuring that theses processes are handled fairly and objectively.”

Last Name: Stennett Locality: Virginia Beach

My name is Damien Stennett and I am a citizen who advocates to necessary and effective change in our city, state, and nation. I have drafted a resolution that I would like for the city council to get behind. ( Meaning request, vote on, and pass. ) I have reached out to members of the council already, but it cannot and should not be just myself. The Resolution I drafted would merely be stating that our ( Virginia Beach ) city/city council would support a change in law to allow localities to create a citizens review panel with investigatory/subpoena powers. ( As of right now this is specific to House Bill No. 5055 introduced by Delegate Herring of district 46. Introduced on Aug 18th at the General Assembly Special Session ) I feel, as should our city official should, EFFECTIVE (key word being effective) police accountability is necessary. I have a petition set up to support this effort. Link to petition :

Last Name: Stennett Locality: Virginia Beach

I am a local organizer / activist and I would like my communities voice to be heard.

Last Name: Knotts Organization: Americans for Prosperity Virginia Locality: Richmond, VA

While we support many reforms on the back end of our justice system for the sake of those who can return to society, a holistic approach to justice reform appropriately looks at the front end of the justice system. Trust between community members and police is essential, and empathetic policing requires officers who understand the community and the temptations many Virginians face. Many who protest right now are doing so because of a lack of trust between them and law enforcement. Presently - officers of law enforcement are expected to have a perfect record and this theory of policy suggests that police who have no record make the best officers. However, we hear of so many inspirational stories of Virginians who become drug counselors because they overcame their drug addiction or nationally recognized school counselors after they, themselves, were once rebellious students. This is true in our places of worship, our education system, businesses, and on and on. Redemptive leaders often show the best of Virginia's values . But right now - Virginia's policy bars any sort of opportunity for such inspirational advocates in law enforcement. We are denying Virginians living breathing examples of how one can go from an offender of the law to a defender of the law. Empathy in law enforcement is essential - and we should expand the pool of officers to ensure those who want to defend the law - and understand the temptation to break it - are standing side by side with those who have lived it their whole life. Because law enforcement impacts all Virginians - our commonwealth needs Virginians to apply who have had different experiences of law enforcement. A negative experience is often how someone learns to do something better. So we encourage you to pass this reform. It will allow greater representation of the communities being represented who want to serve, and more officers empathetic to those who are making bad decisions and can be redeemed from them.

Last Name: Currie Locality: Richmond

When a person is enduring a mental crisis and is in need of care, resources, and medical services, law enforcement should not be the first responders. A team of mental health professionals, peer recovery specialists, and personnel that are professionally trained in crisis management should be the first responders to the scene. Not only are law-enforcement officers not trained nor equipped to respond to these situations, when law-enforcement is dispatched to the scene of a mental crisis, but traditionally disadvantaged communities are also put at risk for unjustified arrest and brutalization by law-enforcement, along with being denied the immediate care that a person in crisis needs. I am speaking/writing today in support of HB5043 and the Marcus-David Peters Act that would develop, fund, and establish a Mental Health Awareness Response and Community Understanding Services (Marcus) Alert System and Community Care Teams. This is a service that has been demanded by the Richmond community for several years now, as a response to the murder of Marcus-David Peters, a young, Black high school biology teacher who was enduring a mental health crisis when he was unjustly murdered by the police. The Richmond community demands that the Marcus alert system along with community care teams be fully-established across the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Marcus Alert Community Care team would provide timely intervention and de-escalation to a person in crisis, along with follow-up services to help prevent future crisis situations. The Marcus Alert Community Care team would also prevent needless incarceration, hospitalization, and institutionalization. The root problem at hand is the criminalization and stigmatization of mental illness, poverty, and melanated skin. The solution is to invest in community-based services that will stimulate care, protection, and growth in our traditionally disadvantaged communities. The community needs policies that address and eliminate the root causes of mental health crises, rather than perpetuating these root causes. The community needs safe spaces for people enduring a crisis to be transported to-- a police car, a jail cell, a coffin, are not the places. The community needs expanded mental health services and equal access to these resources. The community needs investment at large.

Last Name: Jones Organization: Virginia Sheriffs Association Locality: Accomack

The Virginia Sheriffs' Association (VSA) is opposed to HB 5049. Local law enforcement agencies use military equipment that is non weaponized for legitimate law enforcement purposes. Sheriffs use armored vehicles to serve as rescue vehicles in situations. Military surplus equipment such as uniforms, office equipment, medical supplies, meals ready to eat (MRE's) are available to local law enforcement agencies at little or no cost. Weaponized equipment (other than small arms) are not acquired through this program. Such vehicles are used during high water events, hurricanes and snow storms to deliver medications to shut in citizens or as rescue vehicles in such situations. Armored (non weaponized) vehicles are used to protect officers and citizens from harm when participating in dangerous calls, hostage or shooter situations. John W. Jones Executive Director Virginia Sheriffs Association (cell) 804.338.5502 901 E. Byrd St. Suite 1301 Richmond, VA 23219

Last Name: Cohn Locality: Newport, RI

I will be available for testimony.

Last Name: Rymer Locality: Richmond

I support the creation of a Marcus Alert for two reasons. One, Marcus and many other black lives have been lost when they should have been helped. A person in clear distress isn’t a threat to society as much as he/she/they are in danger of harming themselves. Two, the community has lost faith in the RPD and VCUPD. Many crimes aren’t reported because of the distrust in police, and if I personally saw someone who needed help, I wouldn’t know who to call. It wouldn’t be RPD. I may not even call 911 because I can’t trust that an ambulance wouldn’t be joined by a police car. I want to know that if I called 911 because someone was hurt or in mental distress, that they would receive care from EMTs, social workers, etc.

Last Name: Carle Locality: Richmond

Hello, I’m unsure if I would be picked to speak today but I signed up and will not be able to make it due to an emergency. I’m not sure how to cancel my application. Thank you

Last Name: Early Organization: Prince George County Police Department Locality: Prince George County

HB5049: Respectfully oppose the prohibiting of kinetic energy munitions. Reducing intermediary options will have unintended consequences for law-enforcement. Police response options could be reduced to total disengagement (let chaos take over), impact weapons, or lethal options. HB5108: Respectfully oppose reducing representation of VACP and VSA with respect to the Criminal Justice Services Board and its Committee on Training. These representatives are subject matter experts. Lessening these voices are no logical. HB5055: Respectfully oppose mandating the creation of civilian review panels. Each jurisdiction within the Commonwealth differs; this decision should be a local option. HB5043: Concern with language: "All law-enforcement members who are part of a community care team shall wear and use and keep free from obstruction a body-worn camera system whenever such community care team is responding to a call for service." The costs associated with a mandated BWC program are far reaching. Without a funding venue for this body-worn-camera requirement, this mandate would be create extreme fiscal hardship for some localities. Sincerely; W. Keith Early Prince George County Chief of Police

Last Name: Ochs Locality: Richmond

I oppose HB 5055 on the grounds that instead of drawing on vast community expertise on what it needs as far as security and community-police relations are concerned, it empowers the state to address the problems of overreach and lack of accountability that police departments have. Impacted communities ought to have a central and sole voice in reviewing police department policy and practice because they are the ones most affected. I am a member of the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project.

Last Name: Earnest Locality: Richmond City

Policing is one of many broken systems in America. In Richmond and throughout Virginia, we have seen the trauma and grief that unchecked police violence sows in our families, citizens, and communities. The Marcus Alert, which I urge you to support today, is named in memory of a young Black man in crisis (Marcus David Peters) who was murdered at the hands of police who didn't know or care to help him when he needed it most. Passing the Marcus Alert is a worthwhile, meaningful step toward dismantling violent policing systems. American prisons are filled with individuals who have diagnosed mental and behavioral health needs. The prison industrial complex does not and will not provide the care that those people are owed. By implementing the Marcus Alert and dispatching mental health professionals to the scenes of mental and behavioral crisis situations, this legislative body has the power to decrease the need for mental health treatment in jails. It is the responsibility of the state and the people's elected officials to protect ALL of its citizens, especially its most vulnerable. We do not need to rely on the police for this. In fact, the police have repeatedly proven that they are not capable of protecting ALL of its citizens. Look instead to trained leaders throughout the state and in our communities who have experience in providing care and compassion for those most vulnerable people. Look to those leaders who can offer life-changing help to those who need it. Look to the story of Matthew Rushin, a young Black man with autism who was sentenced to a 50-year prison sentence for a non-fatal car accident that took place in Virginia Beach last year. Or to Neli Latson, another young Black man with autism, who was aggressively approached by an officer while he was simply sitting on a bench in Stafford County in 2010, and who reacted to the officer in a manner that was in line with his disability. Unlike Marcus David Peters, these young men are thankfully alive, but they are still owed justice. Imagine how differently their stories may have gone, had someone who understood their needs been called to support them. Imagine if Marcus could still be alive today, had someone not relied on their weapon to resolve his personal crisis. Dare yourself to imagine a community that prioritizes health and help as a first response. Pass the Marcus Alert. Thank you.

Last Name: Hernandez Organization: n/a Locality: City of Richmond

Please support Delegate Jeff Bourne's House Bill 5403 to enact a statewide Marcus Alert. Marcus-David Peters needed help not harm, and law enforcement escalated a mental health breakdown into a lethal situation by killing Marcus. No one should ever die again because they didn't receive the care they needed during a mental health crisis. We need to prioritize our community's safety, health, and well-being by fundamentally changing how we react to mental health crises, and prioritizing systems of care over harmful systems of policing. Please pass HB 5403 to save lives and empower Virginians in crisis with the tools they need.

Last Name: Thompson Organization: Diverse Engagement LLC Locality: Leesburg

Speaking to support Bill to limit the purchase and use of military grade equipment.

Last Name: Miranda Locality: Richmond

I am writing in in support of House Bill 5043 - the creation of a Marcus Alert system. Now is the time to prioritize systems Of community care and peer recovery over the failed punitive system. Now is the time to hold law-enforcement officers accountable for their continued negligence towards the community they are sworn in to protect. Now is the time to end the criminalization of humans experiencing mental health crises. Marcus-David Peters should still be alive today.

Last Name: Whitehead Organization: RTAP (Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project) Locality: Richmond

Luck please and municipalities should be allowed to have autonomy as to how they create and implement their CRB

Last Name: Hart Organization: VOCAL Locality: Chesterfield

I writer to express my full support for implementing a Marcus Alert. It is time for law enforcement to treat a person in distress as a public health priority and NOT a law enforcement issue. When I was experiencing a mental health crisis, I was in need of support from a healthcare professional and not the police. Police officers aren't mental health professionals nor should they be. We can't continue to treat someone in a crisis as a criminal. Marcus needed mental health assistance and instead he received a death sentence. Please implement this alert which will allow those experiencing a crisis to connect with a healthcare professional. Stop bringing guns into a mental health crisis situation! Crisis can be resolved by words of support and caring not by a gunshot. This alert is one step in the right direction. Black Lives Matter! Mental Health Matters!

Last Name: Isaac Organization: Marijuana Justice VA Locality: Richmond

My name is Naomi Isaac, I’m a resident of Richmond’s 5th district and I’m writing to oppose HB 5055. I believe that establishing effective community oversight bodies require time, research, and prioritize the lives of our most marginalized community members. In an era where Black youth are demanding that those with power decarcerate society by defunding police and prisons, this bill seeks to strengthen the DCJ. Communities need time to figure out accountability measures that empower those who are routinely targets of police violence. Please vote no to HB 5055.

Last Name: Alemu Locality: Fairfax County

To members of the Public Safety Committee, My name is Seble Alemu, and I am writing to demand that you install the proposed Marcus Alert System. In order for Virginians to live in a safe, healthy community, we need to be proactive in preventing anyone from being maimed, killed, or arrested simply because of a mental health crisis. Police programs such as the Crisis Intervention Team training or de-esclation training are not effective in saving American lives. Police are still given the authority to be the judge, jury, and executioner when called to handle a mental health crisis; which is not viable in a society when 1/3 to a half of people killed by the police have a disability (Ruderman Family Foundation, 2016). There is stigma imbedded in our society that dehumanizes people with mental disorders or illnesses. The Marcus Alert system would ensure experts are able to effectively address their needs in times of mental health crisis. It would also provide a framework for law enforcement to genuinely serve the public, rather than continue to incarcerate or attack people with mental disabilities, who are vital members of our communities.

Last Name: Johnson Organization: VA Coalition for Transforming Policing Locality: Fairfax County, Town of Vienna

My name is Sharon Johnson and I live in Senate District 34 (Chap Petersen) and House District 11 (Gerry Connelly) and I am a member of the VA Coalition to Transform Policing. I am asking you to vote in support of HB 5002 and Senate Bills 5002 and 5035. These bills provide for the establishment of local review panels to enhance the accountability and transparency of local law enforcement agencies and prohibit the use of neck restraints by law enforcement officers. I believe both of these measures will provide safety to the citizens of my community and support better relationships between citizens and law enforcement.

Last Name: Kuhn Locality: Richmond

To the Honorable Virginia Delegation, On May 14, 2018, Marcus David Peters, a 24-year-old science teacher, was experiencing a mental health crisis. Richmond Police arrived on the scene and instead of getting him the help he needed, Marcus instead received 2 bullets to his abdomen. He needed help, not death. Today, Delegate Bourne is submitting legislation to enact the Mental Health Awareness Response and Community Understanding Services (MARCUS): a system in which mental health professionals alongside peer recovery specialists are the first responders to a suspected or confirmed mental health crisis with a police officer only present as back up in the event the scene becomes unsafe or unstable. This was drafted in partnership with Richmond community leaders and is overwhelmingly supported by the greater Richmond community. I urge you to listen to Richmond's citizen and vote in support of this life-saving legislation. Sincerely, Grace Kuhn 614 W. 20th, Richmond Va 23225

Last Name: Hardesty Locality: Richmond

Good afternoon, I write in full support of the Marcus Alert and the civilian review board requirement. I will keep this brief, but one thing that we can say that we've ALL learned from this summer is that police brutality is a very real issue in our country and in our communities. It fractures the fundamental trust that people have in their governments. Another thing we've learned is that even when people act with good intentions, if the systems in a society are not working, things won't get better. When we know better, we can do better. We must work to change policing to reflect what we know. The scope of police work has expanded beyond what officers and departments can handle. Officers are handling an enormous amount of mental-health calls. 40% of individuals with mental illness will have a run in with police during their lifetime. A recent article in the Washington Post cited that nearly 25% of all Americans killed by police were dealing with a mental illness. Those individuals needed a mental health response, not a police response. Securing immediate mental health support for Virginians, especially in a time of crisis, should be a top priority for us all and keeps us safer, police included. Mandating that departments set up civilian-review boards before summer 2021 is another goal that is worth the time and effort. In order for there to be any trust in the police, we need to be sure that they are accountable to the very people that they are supposed to serve. That is - ALL OF US. There is no path forward for police gaining community support that does not involve transparency and accountability. The lack of public trust not only kills people, but it also prevents cooperation that could lead to cases that involve serious crimes being solved. Please vote to pass the Marcus Alert and civilian review boards. Thank you for your time and energy in making Virginia a better place to live for us all.

Last Name: Stenger Locality: Richmond

You cannot look at what happened to Marcus David Peters and say that he was justly slain when what he really needed was care and compassion. The atrocity of his death should be stunning and it should anger you. I have a younger brother who has asperger's syndrome. He does not communicate clearly or articulately, most often times he does not speak at all. He has extreme anxiety in any situation that involves leaving the house. I imagine what would happen to him if he were ever pulled over while driving, if for whatever reason he could not or would not comply with what an officer of the law was asking of him. We need better systems, equipped with people educated in mental health crisis management who will respond to issues like the breakdown Marcus David Peters was experiencing, who can provide aid rather than having the police show up as though some crime is being committed. We've all seen what happens when the police intervene in situations for which they are not equipped, and if you're Black in America, that could very well mean death. We allocate millions and millions of dollars for a police force to cosplay war against its citizens yet we cannot provide simple assistance to people who actually need help? It does not make sense to me, and I hope that if you cannot agree about the atrocities of our policing system, that at least you can see the need for different, better systems that can provide more targeted care because our mental health systems are nearly non-existent, especially if you are low income.

Last Name: Sharkey Locality: Richmond

I support HB5043, for the implementation MARCUS Alert co-response model during all behavioral health crisis. Police officers are not trained mental health practitioners. Unfortunately, many officers are forced to approach individuals in the midst of behavioral health crises without the proper knowledge or training. The cycle of funneling individuals living with serious mental illnesses into the prison system, releasing them into unstable living situations, and criminalizing their symptoms when in public, must end (Treatment Advocacy Center, 2016). One way to end the cycle is through the implementation of the Marcus Alert across Virginia. With a Marcus Alert in place, behavioral health professionals and peers would be the first responders in situations involving someone experiencing a mental health crisis. Rather than officers being forced to operate outside of their competence, they would be present as support people to the mental health professionals who would be working within their professional expertise. For these above mentioned reasons, and others, I support HB5043 and request your legislative support also.

Last Name: Nobile Locality: Richmond

I write you today in support of the Marcus Alert System. Our system of policing has shown over and over across our nation that it is ill-prepared to respond most to public safety issues, let alone mental health crises. In cities and towns across the US, police are brutalizing people of color and have shown no ability to appropriately handle situations without violence. We need a system to respond to those in need without weapons of destruction, we need a system of care. We need a system that will hold police accountable when they use force disproportionately, with citizen subpoena power. The budget of the RPD is excessively large, and it hasn't yielded results in terms of creating a safer community for all of its residents. We struggle to respond to a pandemic, but the minute our citizens are protesting, the cops are ready to respond with force-- with weapons of war. Why? White men proudly trot around the capitol with their excessive weapons of war freely. Yet when police brutality is protested, it is met with police brutality. Why are we more prepared to go to war with our own citizens, than respond to a health crisis? Police have access to tanks and tear gas while teachers have to buy toilet paper and soap for their students-- is this the Richmond we want? The Marcus Alert System is one part of a solution that will help protect Richmond's most vulnerable citizens. People with disabilities are much more likely to experience abuse and violence, and are more susceptible to police violence. We have the ability to change our response as a city and show that we are listening to our citizens. As a special educator, this speaks volumes to me personally. I work with students who might experience a similar crisis as Marcus-David Peters, and neither he, nor anyone else deserves the kind of response that RPD delivered. We need to re-open the case and hold these police officers accountable. As an educator, if I used force in the manner that police officers regularly do, I would never be able to work with youth again. Why are police officers held to such a different standard? I am hopeful that we can do better as a city and as a country. Defund the police and fully fund our schools and social programs to support Richmond's most vulnerable citizens. They are vulnerable not because of their particular individual choices, but as an oppressed population in systems that supports and emboldens white supremacy. It's time to dismantle that system. Please support the Marcus Alert System. Thank you. -John Nobile

Last Name: Bell Locality: Richmond city

I am writing to urge the legislature to enact the Marcus alert and make it mandatory for all precincts. What we need for our neighbors experiencing a mental health crisis is a mental health professional, not a cop with 100 hours of training and a pistol. Marcus David Peters was naked and unarmed during the mental crisis that lead to his murder at the hands of RPD, and his life Mattered. We cannot allow one more citizen to be murdered at the hands of the police state. Our communities deserve care, not policing, particularly the Black and Brown communities that have suffered the most from our current model of policing. If we can have a hotline dedicated solely to digging safety (811), we can surely have one for mental Health. Richmond demands it.

Last Name: Brown Organization: Constituent voice Locality: Fairfax

Hello As a Family member and Certified Peer Support Specialist with lived experience. I would like to make our families experience in mental health, juvenile justice,and community safety heard. As the communities in Virginia search for answers on police reform both these bills give us the opportunity to be leaders in the nation to support our law enforcement professional's by giving them the support they need to do the job they have been hired to perform. Creating community Care Teams will provide not only the support the Law enforcement needs, but will keep families safer. Providing better outcomes to situations that require longer term interventions. Citizens with challenging behaviors are in need of care, not enforcement. Law enforcement can respond better to crimes being committed if they are not overworked by situations in which Community Care Teams can respond to. We as Citizens of Virginia can be successful, provide hope and healing by passing legislation that is responsive to the needs of our communities. Strengthening Families and keeping everyone alive. Thank you for reading my statement.

Last Name: O’Hern Locality: Richmond

I support this bill and urge that it be passed. For many years I did volunteer work with the houseless community both in Richmond and Norfolk. Many of the people who find themselves without shelter are suffering from mental health issues. Having mental health professionals intervene would break the cycle between the streets and city lock-up. This is just one of many reasons we need the Marcus Alert. To quote the family of Marcus-David Peter’s, anyone suffering from a mental health crisis needs HELP, not death. Thank you.

Last Name: Sked Locality: Richmond City

I am in support of HB 5043, the Marcus alert system. (Mental Health Awareness Response & Community Alert System.) Marcus-David Peters was murdered by a police officer during a mental health crisis. He needed help not death. This should never happen again, & this bill will make it less likely to happen again. If I or my loved one, has a mental health crisis - who do we call? If it's not an emergency we'd go to a mental health specialist, right? But when we reach the point of emergency - why is it police that responds? The police are *not* equipped to provide mental health services - they are not trained for it. They are trained to shoot & kill. No amount of crisis intervention training will prepare police officers to help those having a mental health crisis. The Marcus alert would create "community care teams", consisting of mental health service providers, peer recovery specialists, & law enforcement officers - working *together* This bill will save lives. This Marcus alert *must* be named in honor of Marcus-David Peters. His death shall not be in vain. -------- I am in support of HB 5055, to establish law-enforcement civilian review panels. We are all accountable to someone. Our actions have consequences. When we are children & don't follow our parent's rules - we have privileges like tv time taken away. When we are students & don't study we fail our tests. When we get a job & we break the rules we are fired. Even if we try to hide what we've done - the consequences remain. The harm is done whether anyone knows about it or not. And if we are not accountable, the harm continues. Law enforcement agencies seem to think they are above the law. They think they are not accountable to anyone. They think they can hide what's going on. But all of this harms the community. It makes us less safe. We don't trust the police. We must hold law enforcement accountable for their actions. Everything they do must be completely transparent to the community. We know the police will not police themselves. This bill is essential, as it would create civilian review panels to ensure that when there is wrongdoing by the police, there is a consequence. It would also ensure that we know what's happening behind closed doors. Actually it would mean those doors are no longer closed. This panel must be made up of members of the community that have *no* tie to law enforcement. I repeat the members of the civilian review panel must be made up of individuals with *no* tie to law enforcement. The panel must not be created by 1 or 2 people appointing members. It should be something community members have a hand in creating by voting on who *we* trust. This bill is essential to help keep the community safe. -------- I am in support of HB 5049, which would *prevent* law enforcement agencies from acquiring military weapons or property. Military weapons are meant for war. Not for daily policing. I am extremely against a militarized police force. These weapons are used to intimidate and harm civilians on a regular basis, especially when we exercise our right to free speech. We have endured tear gas, pepper spray, flash bangs, rubber bullets - and more. Officers have semi-automatic weapons attached to them. There are airplanes circling about our heads. There are armored vehicles. Tear gas is banned in war - so why do you keep using it? Why do you even *have* it? Stop playing dress up. This is not a video game. You are hurting us. Stop.

Last Name: Grabow Locality: Richmond

Please support this obviously needed and very important law. When all you have is a hammer, everything you see is a nail- let’s let the people who are trained to handle mental health issues deal with them.

Last Name: Lahah Locality: Richmond City

I am writing you as a member of the Richmond community in support for the Marcus Alert System. Now more than ever, our nation needs the right emergency specialists to respond to a mental health crisis. The police force have not proven their ability to perform de-escalation tactics during a mental health crisis. It is imperative that mental health providers have the ability to be the first responder to these situations.

Last Name: Patillo Locality: Richmond

I would like to voice my support to the Marcus alert bill, as written by Delegate Bourne. I stand with the family of Mr. Peter's in my belief that this version of the bill should be passed without change.

Last Name: Dougharty Locality: Richmond City

I am writing to express my support for the implementation of the Marcus Alert System. I think it is extremely important that mental health experts be on scene during crisis. I also believe that is equally important that a community have the ability to hold it’s police accountable. They swear to protect and serve the community, should that contract be breached, the citizens should feel empowered to impose action.

Last Name: Fraser Organization: The Richmond Association of Black Social Workers Locality: Chesterfield

As a licensed clinical social worker, I fully support HB5043, otherwise known as the Marcus Alert Bill. The Marcus Alert Bill calls for the creation and implementation of a system that enables community care response teams as first responders for community members who are “in-crisis” while experiencing mental health challenges. It is my belief that a community care response team that is comprised of mental health professionals will be better equipped to address mental health issues in a safe and culturally responsive way. This bill will increase public safety by removing law enforcement officers as the first responders to mental health calls, which will allow police officers to focus on other areas of law enforcement and decrease the unnecessary engagement between community members and police.

Last Name: McIntosh Locality: Richmond

A team that comes and supports people in crisis or an emergency of mental health should be one of our top priorities. In the world that we live we should know that the right people will be there for us in an emergency. Not that just because of a mental break or health crisis anyone should have to fear they would lose their life. Health professionals, social workers, crisis councilors, who care deeply and have been trained for these types of situations will better our society. Bring a specialized expertise where we have more people not being locked up, turned away, ignored, or killed. Helping create communities that can g et people they help they really need and plugged into the right spots around a city for long term change. I hope you pass this bill so we don’t have to look around at people as marginalized but be glad to know if we needed the help the right people would come to help us.

Last Name: Murphy Locality: Glen Allen

The MARCUS alert as presented by Delegate Jeff Bournes is the first step to true reformation of our criminal justice system and the first step to building an efficient emergency response team that can efficiently respond to those from all walks of life. The Marcus Alert as presented by Jeff Bournes is new age innovation tackling the problems of how law enforcement responds to those who may not look like them or act like them. The alert consists of a “community care team” including specialists, mental health experts, and law enforcement officers. It is a system built for the people, by the people- exactly how democracy is intended to be. The importance of naming this bill the “MARCUS” alert centers around the unfortunate death of Marcus David Peters who was killed by a Richmond Police officer while having a clear mental health breakdown. The lack of training, knowledge, professionalism, and decency shown in the actions of the officer who killed Marcus David Peters is blatant proof that the current law enforcement system is severely flawed and unable to see the difference between a criminal and a civilian in need. This bill should be named the Marcus alert, not only in honor of Marcus David Peters, but so every single VA and local police officer will understand what it means when you say his name. Marcus was a person, a teacher, a brother, a loved one, a friend-- it is essential for law enforcement officers to remember this when they are responding to a mental health emergency. When officers are called to respond to the “Marcus Alert”, they will be reminded of the accountability they should have to never let another Marcus David Peters happen again. Furthermore, the Marcus Alert bill cannot and must not be watered down. The intention of the bill is to allow trained, educated mental health experts to take the lead in unstable situations. Police should be present as back up, not the first to respond if the situation becomes unstable. Let me give you a few examples in areas mental health experts successfully deescalate violent situations daily without the use of police- special education classrooms, mental health hospitals and facilities, mental health group homes, mental health living quarters. The MARCUS Alert bill must be mandatory! We cannot give law enforcement localities the option to inadvertently take lives. In every institution, there are specific services aligned for the disabled and mentally impaired, oftentimes mandated by law. How is the system that’s supposed to protect and serve us any different?! We cannot give police officers the option to be accountable. We must deliver a system of checks and balances and protect our American people. Again, the MARCUS alert as presented by Delegate Jeff Bournes is the first step to true reformation of our criminal justice system and the first step to building an efficient emergency response team that can efficiently respond to those from all walks of life.

Last Name: Benson Locality: Henrico

Our city needs to step up and accept responsibility for what happened to Marcus-David Peters. I, too, experienced. Mental health emergency this January and was absolutely crushed at the lack of resources in the community. I was asked to leave a partial hospitalization problem right here in Henrico after three days of treatment because they won't accept Aetna better health of VA, which is the states Medicaid program. We failed Marcus and this city failed me, too. We have to do better.

Last Name: Chen Locality: Springfield, VA

We continue to demand the following with detail, 1) The CRB (Civilian Review Board) bill, SB5035, has already been passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It must be amended to state that the board members need to be elected, absent of police, elected officials and elected official’s immediate family. In addition to this, the bill must be mandatory for all localities. 2) Legislators must move forward with supporting the SB5084 bill by Senator McClellen for the Marcus Alert “as written”, worked on by the family of Marcus-David Peters and community members. This bill must be the dominant bill instead of SB5038 by Senator McPike. The Marcus Alert bill puts community care and safety first. Community Care Team members shall not wear uniforms used by law-enforcement officers and shall not drive or operate law-enforcement marked motor vehicles. Mental health professionals and peer recovery specialists shall be first responders with law enforcement officers ONLY present as backup if the scene becomes unsafe or unstable and shall only use non-lethal force. Law enforcement officers must wear and use body-worn camera systems that are free from obstruction at all times and active when responding to all instances of public interaction. These are just a few key important differences between the two bills that highlight why we must move forward with Bill SB5084, the lifesaving Marcus Alert Bill, named in memory of Marcus-David Peters. Delegate Jeff Bourne is carrying a comparable bill for the Marcus Alert in the House, we expect that our legislators will fully support this bill as well. 3) Qualified immunity MUST BE ELIMINATED. Delegate Jeff Bourne and Delegate Jay Jones are carrying a bill to end qualified immunity. We must ensure that qualified immunity is removed from Virginia legislation. We expect that our legislators will follow the lead of those carrying this legislation.

Last Name: causey Locality: Richmond City

how is this not in place yet? this is the bare minimum. i'm a richmond resident and demand that the marcus david peters alert becomes voted into richmond immediately

Last Name: Newcomb Organization: Friends 4 Recovery Whole Health Center Locality: North Chesterfield

To Whom It May Concern, My name is Chris Newcomb and I am writing today as a peer support specialist and Executive Director at a local non-profit. We help individuals who suffer from mental health challenges. Mental health is a mystery that is slowly being understood through research and medication along with other modalities of healing. Still, people have episodes in their mental health journey that can be considered a relapse and often this behavior is a threat to themselves and/or the larger community. Law enforcement are vital to keeping peace and order in our society. Mental health workers are trained to help a person become as self-aware as possible so that they can seek the healing that they need, regulate themselves and also move forward with their lives and stay healthy. It seems to me that a team approach is great opportunity for colleagues who believe in the same thing, safety for all and a happy and healthy public, and stand much to gain utilizing the skills they each bring to the 'table of healing'. Criminality must be contained and stopped. That is not up for debate. How it is contained and stopped and whether or not the offender is suffering from an acute mental health episode is the proverbial $64,000 question. My hope is that the Commonwealth sees fit to pass this bill so that we can utilize a 'community care team' approach maintaining order in society while being sensitive to the illness a person suffers from that may be driving the illegal action they have taken. Team work among mental health service providers, registered peer recovery specialists, and law enforcement would be a very powerful combination and one worth pursuing. In the end, people with mental health challenges do not want to suffer they way they do. They do not choose to have the challenges they face. They are innocent in the receipt of their diagnosis. Their responsibility is to learn to take care of themselves every day the best they can one day at a time. Thank you for reading.

Last Name: Marshall Organization: Delegate Jeff Bourne's Bill (HB5403) Locality: Richmond

In support of the Marcus Alert. In support of the family. To make absolute certain that our citizens can be handled and treated in a necessary manor, with the proper competence and training provided to the individual in need. Funds are constantly stripped away from the mental health departments. The police are under trained and only worry about where to aim their guns. We have seen this from time and time again. We must change and create programs such as the Marcus Alert to have trained individuals who can resolve said situations. With the lack of accessibility for such programs. Undiagnosed mental health issues run throughout this city let alone nation. We must have this program for empathy and compassion.

Last Name: Desrosiers Locality: Richmond

I write to BEG, which in itself is pathetic, but here we are. I write to you all today to beg you pass the MDP Marcus alert bill. As a future teacher, something Marcus-David was robbed of just a few years into his career, I write begging you to put the COMMUNITY FIRST. Stop siding with the bullies in the streets you people call so called public servants when they are merciless KILLERS. It is incredibly saddening for myself as a 24 to think of my future students specially my BLACK male students and feeling like I won’t be able to do enough to protect them. If I’m in the classroom telling them to shoot for the stars, while your crooked cops shoot them IN THE BACK. That does NOT sit right with me. This city has betrayed its people. I don’t have a lot of faith in this system. It has shown us time and time again that it does not serve us. So please, begin to serve the Richmond people. Passing this bill is the absolute BARE minimum. SAY HIS NAME. SAY HIS NAME. MARCUS-DAVID PETERS. I hope it haunts you like it has haunted me. RO BETTER.

Last Name: Stickford Locality: Richmond

My name is Emily Stickford. I am a mental health counselor in Chesterfield County and I live in Richmond city. I have been working with individuals this legislation would support for 10 years. People experiencing a mental health and/or substance use crisis will greatly benefit from this legislation. The individuals in our community experiencing crisis require our support and trained mental health professional interventions that de-escalate crises, such as these proposed community care teams. As is standard practice now, individuals in crisis are not supported by threats of or inflicted violence from police that escalate situations and put everyone involved in undue danger. As we have seen in the preventable loss of Marcus David Peters, Gay Plack, and many other individuals we have allowed to be murdered that needed our support not violence. Please support your community and its vulnerable individuals by passing this bill. Please take this opportunity to offer support and resources instead of violence and punitive measures to individuals experiencing a crisis. Please value the individuals in our community as you would value yourself or loved ones should you or they be unlucky enough to experience a crisis like this. Please pass this bill to support prevention of further murders of individuals in our community. Thank you.

Last Name: Midyette Organization: The Up Center Locality: Chesapeake

As the mother of a grown son with mental health issues, I have had to call the police to my home numerous times when my son was in crisis. This is unfair to the police and unfair to my son. I fully support a Community Care Team and HB5043!

Last Name: Brooks Locality: Richmond

The Marcus Alert system is a vitally necessary public service, one that should have been created a long time ago. It is outrageous that those of us with mental illnesses disorders and disabilities have to be afraid of being shot if one of our loved ones calls for a welfare check. It is outrageous that anyone with a gun would ever be sent to our doors like that at all. Police are never comforting, only ever intimidating at best. Police can only make instances of mental and emotional distress worse. They never help us, they only exacerbate our trauma. The Marcus Alert system is necessary not only for the safety of neurodiverse people, but to assure our loved ones that they will be able to get us help when we need it, and that their concern for us won’t end up killing us.

Last Name: Dougherty Locality: Richmond

The Marcus Alert System is crucial for our community and for the creation of a fairer, humane Richmond. Let us continue to be a city that looks forward and pioneers racial justice in this country, and not a remnant of our past. I urge you to make the Marcus Alert System a reality, for our generation, the generations to come, and as justice for Marcus David Peters and the generations before us.

Last Name: Regal Locality: Richmond

Good evening Public Safety Committee Members, My name is Jacob Regal and I am a resident of Richmond and I urge you to please support and fund HB 5043. I urge you to support HB 5043 so that Virginians who experience a mental health crisis will get the mental health care they need and deserve rather than having it end their life. If Marcus-David Peters would have had a mental health clinician rather than a police officer respond to his mental health crisis, he would still be teaching his Biology students at Essex County High School. By adopting this bill, police can devote more time to the tasks that the taxpayers pay to have them trained for and our state will be safer. After all, a mental health crisis is not a crime, let alone one that justifies death. Thank you for your time and the work that you do for the Commonwealth. Regards, Jacob Regal

Last Name: Bean Locality: Richmond

I support the Marcus Alert System, which calls mental health professionals to coordinate the response to individuals in our communities to receive support during a crisis rather than police officers performing this work without the necessary trainings. Resources should be given to the mental health professionals who will be responding, and those resources should be reallocated from police departments. Mandate that cities reallocate funds from police departments to fund the Marcus Alert System. Thank you.

Last Name: Grim Locality: Richmond

In crisis situations and wellness checks, there is a clear need for mental health professionals in the place of officers. This has been made apparent in past instances where police officers are the first responders in deescalation situations where based on their prior training, no effort has actually been made to "de-escalate" the situation. Time and time again, police officers have displayed inadequate and unacceptable response, which has even resulted in the loss of life of unarmed and non-threatening citizens. The members of the Public Safety Committee MUST support the Marcus Alert System to better protect ALL citizens of the commonwealth.

Last Name: brown Locality: richmond, va

I’m writing to voice my support for the Marcus Alert Bill. Our community needs a better response to mental health than untrained police. This effects every citizen in the city: we should have reliable access to trained mental health first responders, who can de-escalate situations assist when an individual needs immediate help, and protect the safety of all people involved. Involving the police force in complex issues of mental health will always be a flawed measure, because of their lack of knowledge of this field, and bias. Where compassion and knowledge is required to de-escalate, calm, and protect lives, a police presence is dangerous. Too many times have police proven that protecting law and order, or protecting themselves, is so much a priority, that actually protecting citizens in crisis or otherwise, is the first thing to be compromised. Marcus David Peters. So many others have died because police are not mental health first responders. They are law and order first responders, bringing the law into situations where it is not called for. When what is called for is knowledge, specific training, compassion. I don’t want to worry about my loved ones, and my fellow citizens, who suffer occasionally or often from mental health issues. Richmond can set an example for other cities and states, it can lead the country to be a fairer, less punitive, and a safer, place for all. We need the Marcus Alert instituted immediately.

Last Name: Richardson Locality: Richmond,virgina

We need to stand up for rights of the people

Last Name: Millholland Locality: Henrico

I support the enactment of the Marcus Alert System, because people in crisis need care, not guns. ,

Last Name: Forrester Locality: Richmond

I urge the delegates to support this legislature to implement a Marcus Alert System across the state of Virginia, which is and should be named soley in the honor of Marcus David Peters who was tragically shot and killed by Richmond Police in 2018 while experiencing a mental health emergency. Marcus needed help, not death. This legislature is necessary and very much over due. I believe the passage of this bill will be a small but important step forward as we as Virginians grapple with and reconcile the legacy of racism and white supremacy in the commonwealth and make make changes to restore justice and create systems of care, not oppression, violence and incarceration.

Last Name: Upton Locality: City of Richmond

I would like to voice my strong support for establishing the Marcus Alert protocol. I have seen firsthand mental health crisis, where the presence of police only made things more difficult. Healthcare, much less mental healthcare, should never have been a role for police, and we must ensure it becomes instead a role for those qualified.

Last Name: Miller Organization: disAbility Law Center of Virginia Locality: Richmond

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia supports HB 5043. It is our sincere hope that the creation of a marcus alert system will mean that fewer people with serious mental illness have dangerous and negative encounters with law enforcement. We look forward to working with the assigned agencies to ensure swift implementation.

End of Comments