A pre-arrest diversion program, first implemented in Seattle, for those committing low-level law violations driven by unmet behavioral health needs
Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a community-based diversion approach with the goals of improving public safety and public order and reducing unnecessary justice system involvement of people who participate in the program.
In a LEAD program, police officers exercise discretionary authority at point of contact to divert individuals to a community-based, harm-reduction intervention for law violations driven by unmet behavioral health needs. In lieu of the normal criminal justice system cycle—booking, detention, prosecution, conviction, incarceration—individuals are referred into a trauma-informed, intensive case-management program where they receive a wide range of support services, including transitional and permanent housing and/or drug treatment.
Prosecutors and police officers work closely with case managers to ensure that all contacts with LEAD participants going forward, including new criminal prosecutions for other offenses, are coordinated with the service plan for the participant to maximize the opportunity to achieve behavioral change.
First implemented in Seattle in 2011, this model has now been replicated in other areas nationwide.
The program was associated with 58% lower odds of arrest and 39% lower odds of being charged with a felony over the longer term.