The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program is a community-based police diversion approach to addressing those involved in the criminal justice system because of addiction, mental illness, and poverty. In LEAD, 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 instead referred into a trauma-informed intensive case-management program where the individual receives a wide range of support services, often including transitional and permanent housing and/or drug treatment. For more information about the LEAD Program click here.

In December 2015 the Albany Police Department received a grant to aid the Department in the implementation of the recently adopted LEAD program. Click here to view the press release.

LEAD was developed from a growing consensus that the war on drugs has failed and that it has disproportionately and unjustly hurt communities of color. In Seattle, individuals diverted into LEAD were up to 60% less likely to be re-arrested. 

Click here to view Albany's LEAD First Year Report.

Background on LEAD:

In 2016, in an attempt to move away from the War on Drugs paradigm and to reduce gross racial disparities in police enforcement, LEAD® -- a new harm-reduction oriented process for responding to low-level drug, alcohol and mental illness based  offenses-- was adopted and launched in Albany, NY. 

An MOU was signed by community stakeholders ensuring collaboration between police, the district attorney, civil rights advocates, public defenders, political leaders, mental health and drug treatment providers, housing providers, and business and neighborhood leaders.  All involved agreed to work together to find new ways to solve problems for individuals who frequently cycle in and out of the criminal justice system. 

  • Improve public safety and public order.
  • Reduce criminal contact between participants and law enforcement.
  • Build trust between participants, police, case managers, and the community.
  • Reduce the harm the individual is causing him or herself and the surrounding community.
Albany LEAD Data:
Data regarding the number and demographics of people arrested and diverted is collected and reported in order to keep the community updated as to the scope and scale of the program, as well as to facilitate changes to operational protocols, diversion eligibility, and other processes that result in program improvements. This data is pulled from officer input to the Albany Police Department’s Records Management System (RMS) and processed by the Capital Region Crime Analysis Center, then transferred by the Project Director into the final format agreed upon by stakeholders. Questions about this data can be directed to Keith Brown at keith@katalcenter.org.  

Click here for the latest diversion data