Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion or LEAD®, is a pilot project based on a successful pilot in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood in 2011. It allows Portland police officers to divert people involved in low-level drug activity away from jail and prosecution and into intensive case management and services -- if they choose.
Multnomah County is committed to continued outreach to help ensure the LEAD® program best serves participants and the community. On March 21, the county hosted an outreach event designed to solicit input from the community.
The event included representatives from organizations such as the NAACP of Portland, the Albina Ministerial Alliance, Black Lives Matter, the Mental Health Association of Oregon, Don’t Shoot Portland, the Portland Downtown Neighborhood Association, the Old Town Chinatown Community Association, the Portland Police Bureau, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and more.
Below are some of the questions from the event and answers to explain more about how the project works:
Q. Who’s eligible for the LEAD® program? How does the entry process work?
A. Anyone arrested for low-level drug offenses in designated high-pedestrian traffic areas in and near downtown Portland and who meets basic LEAD® inclusion criteria will be considered for the program.
There are two routes of entry into LEAD®:
The first process is a post-arrest/pre-booking diversion. At the point where an officer has grounds to make an arrest for possession of a controlled substance, the officer can divert an eligible individual into LEAD®. If the individual accepts, they are immediately connected with a Central City Concern case manager who assesses and addresses the individual’s most urgent basic needs. As long as the individual completes the full intake assessment within 30 days of arrest, they will not be prosecuted for this offense.
The second process is through a social contact referral. Instead of waiting for an individual to engage in illegal activity, police officers can proactively refer individuals identified as being at high risk of future arrest for drug possession.
Q. How much discretion will Portland police officers have with LEAD®? How do they decide to refer someone to LEAD®? What sort of documentation does the Portland Police Bureau provide?
A. Officers from the bureau’s Street Crimes Unit and Central Precinct Bike Patrol who are trained in LEAD® can divert someone from jail into the program, if the person chooses.
Officers can also refer someone who presents a high risk of arrest for a future LEAD®-eligible offense, through a social contact referral. Social contact referrals are voluntary, too.
Police officers must complete a LEAD® cover sheet for all social contact referrals and all arrests for possession of a controlled substance. That includes those who are not diverted to LEAD®.
LEAD® cover sheets will be reviewed by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, the LEAD® operations team and a third party evaluator to identify any potential racial biases, which will be addressed through officer-training.
Q. How does LEAD® work once a referral is made?
A. LEAD® participants who are arrested must complete an in-depth assessment, ideally within a few days but ultimately within 30 days after arrest, for the case not to be filed. A case manager will address immediate basic needs the participant identifies. Then, over time, the case manager will assist the participant in identifying and prioritizing goals that they hope to accomplish through a self-directed action plan. Applying assertive engagement strategies, case managers will proactively reach out to participants to offer continued support and assistance in achieving their goals. A person who is socially referred to LEAD® must complete the in-depth assessment within 90 days to be enrolled in LEAD®.
Q. How is LEAD® funded? Are Portland Police paid through the program?
A. The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners funded LEAD® by allocating $800,000 from the county’s 2017 fiscal year budget. That money pays for an $800,000 services contract with Central City Concern for case management.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge provided an additional $200,000 that funds a project manager position and community outreach work.
The Portland Police Bureau isn’t paid through the program. The bureau provides in-kind support through its regular patrols of Old Town and the Lloyd District.
Q. How will police interact with undocumented people?
A. The Portland City Council adopted Resolution # 37277 on March 22, 2017. The resolution states that “PPB [Portland Police Bureau] shall not cooperate with Immigration Customs and Enforcement or ICE except as expressly required by Federal Law.” In terms of implementation, this means Portland police officers will not inquire about the immigration status of any potential LEAD® participant.
Q. Aside from actual candidates, who else participates in the LEAD® program?
The LEAD® program includes: a policy team, an operations team and a community engagement team.
The LEAD® policy team meets weekly to review status updates from the LEAD® operations and community engagement teams and determine LEAD® operational protocols. The policy team includes: the District Attorney; a senior staff member from the Multnomah County Chair's Office; a senior staff member from the Mayor's Office; a Portland Police Bureau Commander; the Multnomah County Sheriff; the Director of the Department of Community Justice; the Executive Director of Metropolitan Public Defender Services; the Executive Director of the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council; senior staff from the Multnomah County Mental Health and Addiction Services Division; senior staff from the Portland Business Alliance/Clean and Safe; Citizens Crime Commission; Central City Concern; senior staff from Black Male Achievement and the Joint Office of Homeless Services; and community members who are actively engaged in issues relating to racial and ethnic disparities within the criminal justice system and/or who have lived experience.
The LEAD® operations team meets every other week to review and staff prospective referrals and active LEAD® participants. The operations team includes: Portland Police Street Crimes Officers and Central Precinct Bike Patrol Officers; the LEAD® Deputy District Attorney; Central City Concern LEAD® case managers; the LEAD® Project Manager; community members and people with lived experience.
The LEAD® community engagement team meets weekly to strategize ways to promote public participation around the LEAD® program. The community engagement team includes: city and county staff, members of communities of color, and people who are committed to an inclusive process.
Q. Are people in recovery on the LEAD® team?
A. Yes, people in recovery work on the LEAD® policy, operations and community engagement teams. This includes people with lived-experience in addiction, recovery and/or criminal justice.
Q. Why prioritize LEAD® participants over others who need the same social services this program provides?
A. The LEAD® program is based on a "non-displacement" principle that stipulates participants won’t receive preferential status for scarce housing and treatment resources. A non-displacement principle is required to ensure the program is a net gain to community health and safety.
Q. What are the program’s operating hours? Is there a weekend backup plan? How will people eligible for the program be referred if no case managers are available?
A. LEAD® case managers are available for referrals from noon to 8 pm, Tuesday through Friday, which is consistent with the Street Crimes Unit’s schedule.
Q. Will services only be available around downtown? Will participants be able to engage with services in other parts of the county?
A. Although the LEAD® program operates only in the high pedestrian traffic areas in and near downtown, LEAD® case managers will be linking LEAD® participants to numerous services providers located throughout the community.
Q. What services are provided to participants who are parents?
A. LEAD® case managers will work closely with community providers to refer and place parents into services that also accommodate their children, wherever possible, to avoid disrupting family relationships. LEAD® case managers can also connect individuals to services that help parents reunite with children if needed.
Q. Will information about LEAD® be translated into Spanish?
A. Important documents about the LEAD® program will be translated into Spanish.
To view more frequently asked questions about LEAD® visit the website or email LEAD® project manager Laura Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org.