If we are ever going to be successful at reducing the footprint of the criminal legal system response to people with unmet behavioral health issues, or those living in extreme poverty we need true up-stream solutions. Solutions that include allowing police, system actors and community members an approach that recognizes harm, addresses the needs of people in a humane way, and increases public safety. Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion/Let Everyone Advance with Dignity (LEAD) is that response.

Established in 2011 in Seattle in response to the failed War on Drugs, and its disparate impact on people of color, LEAD seeks to stop the ineffective and often harmful responses of the criminal legal system, while increasing public safety. Instead of continuing the cycle of arrest, LEAD diverts people out of the criminal legal system and into a long-term system of care coordination. A collaborative view of public safety, LEAD initiatives coordinate high level system players while engaging communities in ensuring better outcomes on an individual and community level.

LEAD has been established in jurisdictions across the United States and continues to expand. An evidence-based practice, LEAD has been evaluated in multiple sites and proven an effective response to public safety. LEAD provides the upstream response to system change that is needed in all communities.

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