Diversion / Referral Pathways

First Response

Over the years, law enforcement and the 911 emergency system have become a catch-all response to all kinds of problems – everything from life-threatening emergencies to reports of people sleeping in doorways or disrupting a business.

In many cases, such as when physical safety is threatened, police response is necessary and appropriate. But as officers know firsthand, when it comes to people whose unlawful or problematic conduct stems from unmet behavioral health needs, arresting them over and over doesn’t cause any real change. So communities are left to ask: what can we do instead? 

By building a collective response that diverts people away from the criminal legal system and into street-based, ongoing case management, LEAD equips communities with a new way to address problems for which arrest and detention just don’t work.

There are three ways a person can be referred into LEAD:

  • Arrest diversion gives law enforcement officers the option of referring people into LEAD at the point of arrest for diversion-eligible offenses.
  • Social contact referral gives officers the ability to refer to LEAD people whose law violations may be related to behavioral health issues or poverty without waiting for a potential arrest. 
  • Community referrals give community partners the opportunity to refer presumptively eligible people to LEAD without police involvement and without using the emergency response system.


How to implement LEAD?

In every site, LEAD begins with a group of stakeholders committed to finding a better way. To support their efforts, the Bureau provides an evolving array of resources and assistance, including site visits, topic-specific presentations and trainings, and reference documents.
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What the Bureau does

Where to find support?

Staffed by a team of expert practitioners with first-hand experience implementing LEAD, the Bureau is the world’s only authorized resource to provide training and technical assistance for LEAD.
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Change Begins With Communities.

Interested in implementing or improving LEAD in your community?

Contact Us Today.View List of Participating LEAD Sites