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Chapter 5

Roles & Responsibilities

Governance

To develop and achieve consistent goals, policies, and practices, LEAD sites are collaboratively stewarded by local stakeholders who are close to, or responsible for addressing, the problems LEAD is intended to solve. LEAD sites are stewarded by three principal bodies:

  1. The Policy Coordinating Group
  2. The Operational Work Group
  3. The Community Leadership Team

Policy Coordinating Group

Who

The PCG is made up of senior members of partner agencies (such as health agencies, elected officials, law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, the project management agency, and advocacy groups) who are authorized to make decisions on behalf of the entities they represent.

What

Together, the PCG’s members make policy-level decisions for the initiative and within their respective agencies; develop the local vision for LEAD; ensure that sufficient resources are dedicated for the success of the initiative; and review, approve, and modify overarching policies to reflect the site’s intentions, including (but not limited to) eligibility criteria and referral policies. In addition, the PCG is responsible for establishing and stewarding evaluation, crisis communications agreements, seeing that responsibility for achievements and challenges are shared among partners, and (in collaboration with the project manager) developing budgets and identifying resources.

How the PCG benefits LEAD

Having a site’s principal decision-makers and influencers serve as members of the PCG has multiple benefits. They bring subject-matter expertise regarding their respective roles, carry substantial decisional influence or authority within their agencies, help shape public policies and attitudes, have access to both intellectual and financial resources, are essential thought-partners in conceiving and implementing meaningful systems change, give voice to both longstanding and emergent community priorities, and can help identify and address potential contradictory policies or operations. PCG participation of these key stakeholders also decreases the likelihood that contradictory initiatives will be developed by one partner in a way that will confuse and reduce the efficacy of LEAD and other work already being done.

PCG develops the initiative’s purpose & structure

The PCG holds substantial responsibility for establishing and overseeing the initiative’s purpose and structure. This body should be established before, not after, launch of a LEAD project, as guidance by the PCG members will drive selection of contractors and development of protocols.

The PCG typically develops and executes a project’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to document the agreements among all partners; selects the project management entity and ensures adequate project management; reviews and approves operational protocols; reviews and approves contracting processes for project services; reviews reports submitted by the operational partners and project manager; ensures the development and implementation of an evaluation plan; sets communications policies; approves the project’s budget; and holds responsibility for strategy and planning.

PCG selects and oversees contracted case management

Because case management constitutes such an essential element of the LEAD model, it is crucial that LEAD sites pay great attention to selecting, contracting with, and overseeing a case management agency. Typically, contracts are awarded after a public bidding process, commonly through the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP). The PCG or a subgroup appointed by the PCG should conduct the procurement, staffed by the project manager. The Project Management function should be procured collectively by PCG members.

PCGs may form work groups

Over time, the PCG may decide to form work groups or committees to manage either ongoing or one-time tasks. A site might establish a standing Data and Evaluation Committee, for example, to steward this ongoing element of work; or it might establish a procurement committee to manage the process of soliciting potential contracted partners.

PCG decisions should be made by consensus

True consensus decision-making recognizes the value of moving at the speed of trust, the need for each operational and governing partner to remain at the table of what is a voluntary undertaking for all, and the importance of operating within zones of agreement. This strategy places a premium on project managers’ skills in identifying the needs of each partner and crafting solutions that are acceptable – or at least tolerable – for all.

Project managers carry out the strategic plans of the PCG

It’s important to remember that while the project manager provides coordination and leadership for daily activities and supports the PCG in carrying out strategic plans, the project manager needs to draw on the authority and resources of PCG stakeholders. Being mindful not to impose unreasonable expectations on project managers, PCG members should help to identify and acquire resources and should provide direction to their departments/employees to help carry out the policies and plans developed by the PCG.

For project managers, developing a PCG agenda is not a matter of sitting down at your desk and coming up with a series of topics. Rather, a PCG’s agenda should be the product of careful attention and inquiry: What policy decisions does this body need to consider? What elements of strategic development – evaluation, expansion, funding, communications – do they need to address and tend? What operational challenges require policy responses?

This is a Core Principle

Operational Work Group

Who

The OWG is composed of line staff and mid-level supervisors who carry out the day-to-day operations of LEAD. The members are appointed by the PCG and typically include the project manager, police officers, assistant prosecutors, public defense managers, case managers, other service providers, and community leadership representatives. Especially when a LEAD project is small or just launching, the OWG may include executive-level leaders, and they are encouraged to continue to attend even when the project has evolved to a larger scale. 

What

This governing body provides a common table to collectively monitor, identify, discuss, and address operational, administrative, and client-specific issues.

The OWG strategizes to implement the policies of the PCG

The OWG is not a policy-making body, but it can use a variety of approaches to implement the policies established by the PCG. It can and should strategize about both individual participants and potential referrals, but also about problematic situations and dynamics that need a response from the outreach and case management team, apart from the individuals who may be involved in the situation.

The essential functions of the OWG can be organized by region

The essential functions of the OWG can be organized at the neighborhood or precinct level, or citywide, but they should be of a scale that permits the OWG to know and address challenges involving individual participants and specific situations. Even if it goes by another name, the OWG’s essential functions should be preserved.

Each partner retains the authority to make decisions within their sphere

Each operational partner in the OWG retains the authority to make decisions within their sphere of operations – case managers make clinical decisions, police decide when and how to take enforcement steps and whether to divert, and prosecutors decide when and whether to file, decline or dismiss a case, whether to seek detention or support release, and how and when to resolve a filed case. No one’s hands are “tied.” However, input and information from other partners often improves decision-making, helping all partners build a more informed picture of needs and opportunities.

The work of the OWG can be organized into two categories: administrative operations among the partners, and participant case conferencing:

  • Administrative Operations
    The OWG is responsible for collectively improving day-to-day operations and efficacy, identifying emerging community or operational issues that may shape or affect the project’s work, and identifying and proposing any policy changes that should be considered by the PCG.
  • Case Conferencing
    Operating as a multidisciplinary team, the OWG enables ongoing case-coordination to support participant success, fosters shared problem-solving of situations (not just individual challenges), and identifies collective needs and opportunities. Police, prosecutors, and case management devise ways to coordinate their responses to a particular participant, and help one another identify new approaches that may work better. The project manager facilitates OWG meetings and oversees business flow, processes, and information-sharing.
This is a Core Principle

Community Leadership Team

Who

Members may include civil rights representatives (with particular attention to racial justice organizations and disability rights groups), neighborhood associations, business district associations, public health workers, police oversight boards, public safety advocacy groups, social service providers, and religious communities. It is important to ensure that the composition of the CLT reflects the communities most impacted by street-level law enforcement and public safety practices in various respects.

What

The Community Leadership Team (CLT) is a preferred (but sometimes optional) feature that can help sites efficiently receive guidance from diverse community voices. Serving as a conduit to the broader community, the CLT can provide advance communication with and connection to the project’s operational and governing stakeholders; identify blind spots and suggest opportunities for growth and evolution; troubleshooting; data review; provide opportunities for community input on any aspect of LEAD implementation; and serve as informed stewards of the project’s intentions.

The demographics of the CLT must be carefully balanced

No single community voice can fully encapsulate the interests of diverse sectors in safety, justice and health. A CLT leadership structure should be carefully balanced to ensure that diverse points of view feel welcome, including of groups that normally do not care to share the same organizational space. Project managers should provide staffing, unless the PCG chooses another community-based organization to play that role.

This is a Core Principle
If a CLT has been convened, it should be represented on the PCG

Because any community contains a wide variety of stakeholders with important and diverse perspectives, sites may reserve several community representative seats on the PCG.

This is a Core Principle
A CLT isn't always needed

LEAD stakeholders and project managers should be mindful that community leaders have many obligations besides sitting in an advisory capacity on a widely-supported project. Once the project is underway, it may become a better use of time for members to be consulted regularly in their own meetings and spaces, convening as needed to discuss specific issues, rather than maintaining standing meetings.

This arrangement can also substitute for a formal CLT in some communities, depending on how well-established the program is and how much capacity the project management team has to be in continuous dialogue with diverse community partners. In situations in which maintaining a standing CLT does not make sense, its essential functions must be accomplished in other ways. Project managers should build regular check-ins with key community leaders into their practice and should convene special meetings to address particular challenges or impasses that emerge.

Staffing

Staffing falls into these categories:

  • Project Management
  • Case Management
  • LEAD Liaison Prosecutors
  • LEAD Legal Services

Project Management

Although the title “project manager” is used in many fields, a LEAD project manager must serve as a combination of visionary master planner, group facilitator, conciliator, cat-herder, consensus-builder, resource developer, subject-matter expert, and operational engineer. The project manager works for and at the direction of the PCG and must be able to maintain equally strong relationships with all stakeholders. In essence, the project manager should operate at an equal arm’s length from all while being equally accountable to all.

The project management function requires a unique blend of skills: the ability to steward both vision and operations; a deft touch in creating and holding space for disagreement and hard conversations across a wide array of diverse stakeholders; the ability to gather and distill subject-matter expertise; ease in toggling among multiple tasks and timelines; and the cool-headed steadiness to withstand political, interpersonal, and operational stresses and pressures in the high-visibility, often contentious, fields of public safety and order.

Operational management

The project manager must effectively collaborate with all stakeholders on the PCG, operational partners on the OWG, and community advisors (whether or not the site has a formal CLT) in order to implement LEAD consistent with its established goals. This means that the project manager must understand the roles, challenges, and priorities of each of the central stakeholders; identify and elevate emergent issues; cultivate consensus on administrative and policy matters; steward communications, budgets, and evaluation efforts; and support strategy and development.

A primary role for the project manager is to foster engagement with neighborhood leaders and businesses to ensure that LEAD is effectively and visibly responding to their priorities, whether that be a single individual in need of support or a chronic trouble spot that needs attention, milieu management, and problem-solving.

External engagement

Although the project manager holds important internal roles for strategy and management, it’s absolutely essential that the project manager also embrace the role’s public-facing duties. Even with sites that have a robust CLT, the project manager should be a familiar and trusted person throughout the local community. The project manager should cultivate a reputation as a compassionate and interested listener, an engaged thought-partner, and a dependable, collaborative problem-solver. All parties should see the project manager as open and interested in their concerns.

In addition to overall external engagement and responsiveness, the project manager is specifically responsible for input from and response to neighborhood and business leaders, to ensure that LEAD is operating (and is seen as operating) in a way that advances their legitimate public order and safety needs.

Internal coordination

The project manager serves as resource, liaison, convener, and organizer to and for the PCG, OWG, and the CLT.

The project manager is responsible for ensuring that PCG direction is communicated to the OWG and other relevant partners for implementation. It’s critical that the project manager be in regular conversation with each PCG member between meetings, so as to understand any LEAD-related issues emerging from their respective agencies and to enable each PCG meeting to be effective and efficient. As a rule, nothing that comes up in a PCG meeting should be a surprise to the project manager or to any of the relevant agencies.

As facilitator and convener of the OWG, the project manager works to ensure the smooth implementation of all aspects of project operations; helps identify the need for problem-solving and planning during case conferencing and situational trouble-shooting; and elevates operational issues that need collective attention by the OWG or consideration by the PCG.

The project manager is also generally responsible for budget management, may manage subcontracts for case management at the direction of the PCG, and is responsible for managing or coordinating data integration and reporting.

The project manager is also responsible for forecasting caseload and referral volume, prioritizing referrals so as not to exceed case management capacity, and identifying adequate resources to expand capacity as demand and the number of priority referrals increases. Not everything cannot be a priority all at once – so it’s a high priority for project managers to seek guidance and achieve coherent direction from the PCG.

Independence of governing and operational partners

For several reasons, project management responsibilities for LEAD should be located within an organization that is independent of the other operational and governing partners and any elected official. All LEAD stakeholders need to rest assured that the project manager isn’t primarily obligated to any one partner. To maintain loyalty to the project itself, the project manager can’t be beholden to anyone running for office or seeking to stay in office, or to any one agenda among a group of diverse partners.

In choosing project management entities, LEAD sites should look for organizations that are oriented to system reform, have a strong positive relationship with many community advocacy organizations, and have a demonstrated respect for and from public safety agencies. Public health-oriented organizations may be strong candidates, but it’s important for sites to understand that holding the project management function is distinct from providing direct service – it is focused on organizing a framework in which project managers serve as essential liaisons, coordinators, and facilitators, while other entities provide direct service.

If it is not initially possible to lodge project management in an organization independent of other operational and governing stakeholders, sites should take steps to establish safeguards to support the independent voice of the project manager. For example, it should be explicitly agreed that the PCG is responsible for overseeing the work of the project manager, even if that individual is employed by one of the stakeholder agencies.

The MOU establishing the LEAD partnership should provide that a subcommittee of the PCG will write the job description for the project manager, serve as the project manager’s sounding board, and be responsible for performance reviews. The project manager must know that they are not jeopardizing their position as employees if they operate in ways that serve the partnership but that aren’t the ideal approach from the point of view of their employer.

Case Management

In the LEAD model, case managers operate in field-friendly teams responsible for participant support, systems navigation, and field engagement. If the project is of sufficient size, the case management team may sometimes be augmented by dedicated outreach & screening coordinators.

Case managers as the golden thread

Case managers are the “golden thread” for participants, staying with them through twists and turns, observing self-sabotaging choices, using motivational interviewing, celebrating modest victories and helping to build strength. They are a broker of services, going to bat for the participant in and among systems often not built for them. They attend to participants’ self-identified goals, but also scan the landscape for resources to stabilize income, housing and health status if that is a goal for the participant.

The case management team should blend lived experience and clinical skill, and the team as a whole must have the knowledge, credentials and expertise to effectively diagnose, identify issues, connect to appropriate care and resources, and provide clinical supervision to line staff.

This is a Core Principle
Legal system advocates

Some larger case management teams may benefit from assigning specific colleagues to play the role of Legal Systems Advocates, serving as the primary connection point between the case management team and LEAD Liaison Prosecutors. These specialists can focus on tracking LEAD participants’ pending court cases, local and remote; they communicate with defense counsel; they make civil legal services referrals when appropriate; and they coordinate with LEAD Liaison Prosecutors to try to ensure that filed (non-diverted) cases don’t derail the participant’s progress toward recovery.

If a site’s case management team and participant numbers are relatively small, this skill set may also be cultivated in the entire case management team.

Flexible funds for case management

Case managers must have some flex funds available to spend on participant basic needs (from buying lunch for a discussion in the field, to providing basic furnishings for an apartment, to providing a phone) and pro-social supplies (e.g., painting supplies for an artist). As determined by the clinical supervisor, such funds might also be used for posting bail, paying informal or formal restitution, or paying client debt, if that is an impediment to stabilization.

To maximize the reach of the LEAD flex fund pool, these funds should not be used when other resource pools are available, but there should otherwise be no imposed limit on the lawful purposes for which funds can be used.

This is a Core Principle
Case managers engage in legal case coordination

Case managers engage in legal case coordination with LEAD Liaison Prosecutors and connect with defense lawyers representing participants. In conversations with prosecutors, both parties must observe the Golden Rule that no one can be worse off because they are enrolled in LEAD and share information with their case managers.

When information is shared appropriately, prosecutors gain insight into what is really happening in the individual’s life and about the stabilization plan to address those circumstances. While this information can guide prosecutor decisions, prosecutors must agree not to respond more harshly to any participant than they would have if the individual were not enrolled in LEAD. The most severe result that a LEAD participant should ever be exposed to in a given case would be to proceed with standard/mainstream case processing, as might be experienced if the person were not in LEAD.

This is a Core Principle

All outreach and case management services must be grounded in participant-centered, street-based methods that utilize harm reduction, motivational interviewing, trauma-informed principles and practices, and cultural competency to reduce harm and foster improved health and safety both for participants and the larger communities.

Legal Case Coordination

Typically, entry into LEAD should primarily be through a pre-arrest social contact referral); a post-arrest, pre-booking diversion; or a community referral not connected to a criminal charge.
However, many LEAD participants have pre-existing court cases, warrants, or case filings that arise after they enroll in LEAD. Sometimes, due to case filing backlogs, these cases may stem from incidents that preceded the participant’s enrollment in LEAD. Unless sites actively seek to develop policies and practices to coordinate the cases, they pose a high risk of interrupting and dislodging LEAD participants’ hard-won progress.

Thus, it can be useful for sites to identify LEAD Liaison Prosecutors who serve on the OWG and coordinate LEAD participants’ non-diverted cases. They gather information from case managers on the goals of individual defendants, their progress and challenges, and the effects that pending cases might have on that progress.

Depending on the size of the jurisdiction and available resources, LEAD Liaison Prosecutors may be a dedicated resource, or they may carry a mainstream prosecutor caseload and monitor LEAD participants’ cases as part of their usual assignment.

As members of the LEAD team, Liaison Prosecutors are asked to make whatever decisions are within their authority (or that of their office) that are likely to support positive behavior change and improve the defendant’s circumstances.

In practice, this means that they may monitor a case in the filing queue and decide not to file it; they may hold a filing decision in abeyance while monitoring the individual’s progress within LEAD; they can move to dismiss cases in consideration of the such progress; they can support motions to quash or not file warrants; they can support pretrial release; and they can negotiate terms of a disposition that won’t undermine a defendant’s progress.

Participating in LEAD does not grant immunity from enforcement or prosecution for future illegal action. However, Liaison Prosecutors must always hew to the first of LEAD’s two Golden Rules: No one can be worse off because they are enrolled in LEAD and share information with their case manager, which the case manager then shares, as appropriate to support participant success, with prosecutors or police.

Concretely, this means that prosecutors should not obtain actionable information from case managers about law violations or violations of court orders; if they do, they must not seek adverse action based on that information. However, participants will not share necessary information with the case managers if doing so leads to adverse actions. Similarly, case managers will stop sharing information with operational partners if doing so harms participants or interferes with their progress.

However, if law enforcement or prosecutors obtain independent and adequate information from an alternative source, prosecution action is not constrained. Liaison Prosecutors need to be able to carry weight with mainstream prosecutors and need to be familiar with the efficacy of the techniques used by LEAD case managers in order to persuasively propose and support alternatives to their colleagues and the elected or appointed prosecutor.

This is a Core Principle

LEAD Legal Services

From the inception of the flagship LEAD initiative in Seattle, that project has included an in-house legal services resource, LEAD Legal Services, which has been an invaluable aspect of direct service support to LEAD participants from the outset. A team of five lawyers, housed within the same organization that also houses the Project Management team, takes referrals from LEAD case managers for participants who need help avoiding or mitigation an eviction, vacating convictions, seeking relief from legal financial obligations, addressing family law problems and immigration status issues, being relieved from unlawful debt, quashing warrants outside of the local court system (where LEAD Liaison Prosecutors can assist), and sometimes, with defense in cases and probation violation allegations in outlying courts that threaten to wreck participants’ progress.

Projects that lack this resource will want to make some arrangements for access to civil legal services resources if at all possible. Many participants will hit unmoveable walls and obstacles that will not yield even to the most skillful case managers but that can be addressed with legal advocacy.