On December 24, the Baltimore Sun broke the news about OSI-Baltimore’s new grant to establish the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in Baltimore with its front-page story, “A new tack on drug abuse” (the online headline is different).
“The Baltimore Police Department, working with a local nonprofit organization, is planning an experimental program that would divert low-level drug offenders to treatment and support services while allowing them to avoid arrest,” it starts.
And on December 28, the Sun published an op-ed on LEAD by Tara Huffman and Scott Nolen, directors of OSI-Baltimore’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice and Drug Addiction Treatment programs respectively. “LEAD will enable police to exhibit their role as public servants and assist those in need, thereby beginning to repair their relationship with the people they serve,” they wrote.
The local version of the LEAD program, which was pioneered in Seattle, is a collaboration between the Baltimore Police Department, the State’s Attorney’s Office, Behavioral Health System Baltimore, and other stakeholders working together to shift the focus of law enforcement’s approach to drug users from criminalization to treatment, something that was discussed at length in OSI’s recent Talking About Addiction forum.