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LEAD Project Managers

Quick Guides

Project management for LEAD is a central function, one that requires a mix of strategic, operational, and relationship skills, along with a clear vision about how a community can improve its system of response and care.

As outlined under Roles and Responsibilities, LEAD project managers oversee the day-to-day processes and coordination of a local LEAD initiative, and are stewards of the collective vision. If you’re in this role, familiarizing yourself with all elements of LEAD – from the principles to procedures to contracting, funding and evaluation – can offer invaluable benefits.

Whether you’re exploring LEAD, are eager to begin a LEAD initiative, or are seeking guidance in implementation or evaluation, this toolkit offers resources to help your community build better safety, health, and equity with LEAD.

Request Technical Assistance 

The LEAD Support Bureau provides intensive and ongoing technical assistance and support through site-specific contracts; some technical assistance may also be available on a limited pro bono basis. To request assistance, contact the Bureau.


What is success, in LEAD?

Overall, LEAD aims to enhance public health, safety, and equity by improving care for people who have been historically rejected by multiple systems, while reducing dependence on the criminal legal system in response to unmet behavioral health needs and poverty.

At base, success in LEAD means the incremental reduction in harm: of participants to themselves, of the harm they cause to others, and of the harm others cause to them – including systemic harm. But a person’s progress along the harm-reduction continuum may not be straight or linear. Thus, individual successes in LEAD must always be measured by incremental progress toward goals participants identify for themselves, in concert with their case manager.

And just as LEAD strives to help people improve their individual circumstances, it also strives to help communities improve their collective well-being as a whole, by reorienting the systems that shape health, safety, and equity. So it’s important for every LEAD site to measure not just individual progress but to assess systemic shifts as well.

How do you get police officer buy-in?

Key strategies for building police officer buy-in include designing the program and developing policies and protocols with their input – ideally, input from the officers who will be tasked with carrying out diversions and their supervisors at the table from the beginning. Law enforcement-led training is invaluable, so that the approach is introduced by “one of our own” or a peer. Roll call check-ins on a regular basis can help identify issues that need attention or process problems. Soliciting officer input and thoughts, rather than calling sessions “trainings,” is easier to accept.

In ordinary policing models, officers are seldom kept informed of what happens after they’ve made an arrest; in contrast, LEAD’s multidisciplinary OWGs provide officers with consistent opportunities to participate in ongoing conversations about the people they’ve engaged with. It’s common for officers to express appreciation for this opportunity to engage in shared problem-solving with other agencies.

The most important way to build buy-in, however, is for case managers to meet officers out in the field in difficult conditions (in the rain, early morning, in an alley with a very challenging individual) and competently and rapidly make the situation better. No one can resist help with a hard problem, and sharing the work is a real barrier-breaker.

Is anyone eligible for LEAD?

Many people who come into occasional contact with the criminal legal, social service, or behavioral health systems – via a single arrest, a temporary economic hurdle, or a difficult psychological period – can successfully find their way through these challenges without suffering severe and lasting consequences. For them, the established system of response and care may prove to be sufficiently accessible and manageable.

These are not the people LEAD is intended to serve.

Instead, LEAD is expressly designed to provide a new system of care for people whose complex, ongoing, unmet behavioral health needs result in disruptive or unlawful behavior. They may lack reliable shelter, income, food, health care, and positive social networks, and may find existing systems inaccessible, impossibly complicated, or insufficiently responsive.