Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion is a pre-trial diversion program that was originally developed in Seattle and seeks to enlist the assistance of police officers in identifying and diverting chronic low-level offenders in need of wrap-around social services to help them overcome issues leading to their involvement in crime and substance abuse.
In 2017, the Colorado legislature passed legislation to fund Colorado’s Officer of Behavioral Health to pilot and evaluate the LEAD programs in four communities. The four communities selected were: Alamosa, Denver, Longmont and Pueblo. Our team at CU Denver, an inter-disciplinary partnership between Sociology and Criminal Justice, was selected to evaluate the impact of the program across the four sites.
Of particular interest are the:
(1.) How officers exercise discretion in their decision to divert offenders, (2.) Whether participation in LEAD improves clients life satisfaction and functioning, and (3.) What if any benefit there is in LEAD vs. traditional processing through the criminal justice system.
The research team has established baseline data collection protocols and is conducting preliminary analysis, and will begin conducting interviews with officers, clients and stakeholders this Spring.