Multnomah Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD®) Frequently Asked Questions 

LEAD® is the result of a commitment from law enforcement agencies, public officials, community organizations, and service providers to work together in an innovative and collaborative approach to address drug activity and addiction in our community. LEAD® promotes a harm reduction philosophy and supports the platform that drug addiction is a public health issue and not a criminal justice issue.  Who is eligible for diversion into LEAD®? Individuals who are arrested for low-level drug offenses in the High Pedestrian Traffic areas in and near downtown Portland may be diverted into LEAD®.  

Who supports Multnomah LEAD®?

Multnomah LEAD® is the result of a unique collaboration among diverse local stakeholders. Collaborators include the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, the Portland Police Bureau, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Office of the Mayor, the Metropolitan Defender’s Office, the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice, the Citizens Crime Commission, the Multnomah County Mental Health and Addiction Services Department, and representatives of the local community. The collaboration of these stakeholders was motivated by a shared dissatisfaction with the outcomes and costs of traditional drug law enforcement.   

What are the core principles of LEAD®?

There are three core principles associated with the LEAD® model. The first core principle of LEAD® is that it employs a harm reduction philosophy. Harm reduction refers to policies and strategies aimed at reducing the negative individual and collective consequences associated with drug use while recognizing that abstinence may not be attainable for everyone. LEAD® participants will not be penalized or denied services if they do not achieve or maintain abstinence.  The second principle of LEAD® is the non-displacement principle which stipulates that LEAD® participants will not be granted preferential status for housing and/or treatment services. LEAD® participants may have access to certain services and resources through the use of limited program funds.  The third core principle of LEAD® is community transparency and accountability. Community stakeholders will be invited to participate in regular staff meetings and will have access to program performance reports and annual evaluations. Additionally, the community will have direct access to identified program staff and will have the opportunity to provide input into the on-going operations of the program.  Who will provide services to LEAD® participants? LEAD® stakeholders have contracted with Central City Concern to provide case management, treatment and service brokering to LEAD® participants. Central City Concern will follow a harm reduction, person-centered, trauma-informed approach.  How will we know if LEAD® works? All LEAD® stakeholders are committed to rigorous program evaluation. The evaluation will consider whether LEAD® has resulted in reductions in drug use and recidivism,  is more cost-effective than traditional criminal justice processing, and  the impact on an individual's and the community’s quality of life.  How much will LEAD® cost? The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners allocated $800,000 in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget to develop, launch, implement, and evaluate LEAD®. Additional funds and support is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge. Once the program has been implemented, the LEAD® Policy Team will assess the ongoing financial needs of the program and will seek financial resources from a variety of public and private funding streams. 

When will LEAD® be implemented?

The LEAD® pilot program launched March 2017.  

If you have any further questions about LEAD®, please contact: Laura Cohen, LEAD® Project Manager