Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Newsletter
Bridging the Gap Between Law Enforcement and Behavioral Health
Baltimore Police Department Lt. Steve Olson didn't become a police officer to "lock up the bad guys." He wanted to help his community, even if it meant focusing less on strict law and order and concentrating on helping the most vulnerable population. Lt. Olson is part of a pilot program, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD®) which launched in February of 2017 in Baltimore's Central District. This program, designed to address the rising rates of incarceration around the country, is a partnership between BHSB and the Baltimore Police Department. LEAD® is a prebooking diversion program that offers low-level drug and prostitution offenders case management and legal services as an alternative to incarceration and prosecution.
As part of his work, Lt. Olson patrols Lexington Market, an area police describe as a "well-known open-air drug market." Here he encounters some of Baltimore's most vulnerable residents - those with an active addiction. "You can't fix addiction with handcuffs. With LEAD®, Baltimore has to take a hard look at addiction and find a solution," says Olson. LEAD® aims to create long-term systemic changes in how law enforcement addresses substance use.
Bridging the gap between public safety officials and behavioral health providers, LEAD® is a smarter approach to help people address their substance use disorders. Olson reports there's been a "noticeable difference in the Central District since LEAD® launched. With positive results coming in every day, we're hopeful that our community will be changed for the better with LEAD® at the forefront of policing."
the American Brewery building, 1701 N Gay St, Baltimore, MD 21213.
BHSB will host our first provider conference: Moving Past Shame and Blame to Recovery and Resilience on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 from 9:00 am-4:00 pm at the Radisson at Cross Keys, 5100 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21210. More information coming soon.
Evidence LEAD Works
The United States imprisons more of its people than any other country in the world, and incarceration rates, particularly among people with substance use disorders, are only increasing. Evidence shows that LEAD® reduces arrest and incarceration, and produces positive health outcomes for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
Seattle's LEAD® program 2015 evaluation results show a positive impact on the lives of LEAD® participants:
Participants were 58 percent less likely to be arrested compared to those who went through criminal justice system processing
Criminal justice costs and utilization declined by $2,100 for LEAD® participants
Participants were significantly more likely to obtain housing, employment and income in any given month subsequent to their LEAD® referral
LEAD® offers a means for law enforcement and prosecutors to help communities respond to public order issues stemming from unaddressed public health needs-addiction, untreated mental illness, homelessness, and extreme poverty. Based upon these results, Baltimore's LEAD® program has considerable promise to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens and the safety of our community.