In a Baltimore Sun op-ed on Tuesday, Andrew Vetter, director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, said the city intends to expand the OSI-sponsored Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, which diverts drug users into treatment instead of the criminal justice system.
“We are seeking to expand existing programs like Safe Streets and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion and to adopt innovative approaches proven effective in other cities,” he wrote.
Also last week, the National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI)’s Baltimore chapter recognized Baltimore Police Lieutenant Steve Olsen, a LEAD supervisor who lost his brother to the disease of addiction. The Sun interviewed Olson when LEAD launched:
Lt. Steve Olson, who will help supervise the program, said he is passionately committed to its success. Just over 10 months ago, Olson said he discovered his brother was addicted to heroin. That brother has since died, he said.
Having been a cop for 18 years, Olson said he “figured I had the resources at my fingertips” and would be able to get his brother help, but instead found “a lot of the doors that looked open were shut. A lot of the doors that were shut were open and I didn’t know it. I couldn’t help my own little brother.”
Olson now sees his involvement in the LEAD program as a calling.
“If I couldn’t save my own brother, I’d like to save yours,” he said. “I’d like to save your mother and your father, your brother and your sister.”