Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)
Behavioral Health and Recovery Division
Watch this moderated discussion of the LEAD program to learn more about the program’s history and objectives, unique service model, and plans for expansion to South King County. This conversation features a panel of stakeholders including law enforcement, prosecution, case management, local business, and a program participant.
A New Alternative
The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) arrest diversion program is a collaborative community safety effort that offers law enforcement a credible alternative to booking people into jail for criminal activity that stems from unmet behavioral health needs or poverty.
LEAD diverts individuals who are engaged in low-level drug crime, prostitution, and crimes of poverty away from the criminal legal system—bypassing prosecution and jail time—and connects them with intensive case managers who can provide crisis response, immediate psychosocial assessment, and long term wrap-around services including substance use disorder treatment and housing.
By working with law enforcement to intercept individuals and channel them into community-based interventions at the point of arrest or pre-arrest, LEAD effectively disrupts the cycling of individuals with behavioral health issues through our criminal legal system and uses a low barrier, harm reduction based model of care to help participants work toward achieving stability in the community.
LEAD Operational Partners
LEAD operates through a unique coalition of law enforcement agencies, behavioral health providers, prosecutorial partners, and community groups, and is governed by a larger stakeholder body called the Policy Coordinating Group.
Some key elements of the LEAD model and service package include:
- Services are provided as long as they are needed rather than ending on a fixed date
- Abstinence is not a requirement to receive services
- Case management services are harm-reduction oriented, holistic, and based on individual needs
- Services are low-barrier and provided through street outreach in the community where the individual spends their time
- Dedicated prosecutorial resources facilitate creative resolutions and coordination with other jurisdictions for outstanding criminal legal issues
LEAD is currently offered in Seattle’s West, East, North, and South Police Precinct patrol areas as well as in Metro Transit zones and on Metro buses through the King County Sheriff’s Office.
LEAD was externally evaluated by researchers at the University of Washington.
Lead Trueblood Expansion
The Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD) has partnered with all parties in the Trueblood lawsuit, as well as the U.S. District Court and the Seattle Foundation, to build a continuum of diversion programs for individuals in King County who have a history or are at increased risk of cycling through legal competency services.
LEAD Trueblood Expansion launched in July 2018 and will add the following resources to the traditional LEAD service package in order to better serve the Trueblood target population:
- Intensive, outreach-based mental health services provided by the Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC)
- Interim housing and housing supports through Community House Mental Health Agency
Learn more about Diversion from Legal Competency Services in King County, including LEAD Trueblood Expansion.
Funding provided by:
- King County Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD 2)
- Trueblood Phase III Diversion Grant
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