topics Policy Research Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Overview

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Overview

In 2011, Seattle, Washington piloted the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. LEAD, now growing across the country, is an evidence-based, collaborative, pre-arrest diversion program aimed at improving public safety by reducing drug use, drug selling, and the quality-of-life problems associated with open-air drug markets. The program focuses on providing harm reduction–oriented intensive case management, behavioral health, and substance abuse care rather than filing a criminal charge and seeking prosecution and incarceration.

Key features of the program

  • Collaboration: LEAD requires a high level of collaboration between prosecutors, law enforcement, behavioral health providers, and a broad array of support service providers.
  • Pre-Arrest Diversion: By diverting individuals at the point of contact, LEAD reduces harms related to arrest and the creation or expansion of a criminal history.

LEAD has shown great success for participants who have behavioral health and substance use needs. When compared to non-LEAD participants, LEAD participants are:

  • Twice as likely to be sheltered in temporary or transitional housing;
  • 89% more likely to have obtained permanent housing;
  • 46% more likely to be on the employment continuum;
  • 33% more likely to be connected to income/benefits subsequent to LEAD involvement; and
  • 60% less likely of having at least one arrest following program entry.

Read or download the full paper Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Overview.