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Frederick News

Posted on: January 3, 2022

City of Frederick, agency partners launch diversion program

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The Office of the Mayor, Frederick Police Department, and several critical agency partners are excited to announce the launch of a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program within the City of Frederick.  

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a pre-booking diversion program that diverts people out of the criminal justice system and into long-term harm reduction street-based peer case management. LEAD is a new tool for police officers, allowing them to intervene and assist individuals in need through a collective response.  

Agency partners include the Frederick County Health Department, Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office, Frederick County Office of the Public Defender, and the Frederick County Division of Parole and Probation, all have worked tirelessly on this initiative to provide the most appropriate responses to City residents.  

“The City of Frederick is proud to be a part of this partnership that acknowledges substance use and behavioral and mental health calls for service may better be handled through diversion opportunities first,” said Mayor Michael O’Connor. “Helping people avoid the stigma of a criminal record for low-level offenses should work in the best interest of these individuals, the police, the court system, and our community.”  

Early data from a LEAD pilot in downtown Frederick showed this program will prevent a significant amount of arrests for low-level crimes.

“After approximately four years of research into diversion programs and best practices, we are excited to launch this program and provide case management services utilizing a grant awarded to the health department by the Maryland Department of Health,” Andrea Walker, Director of Behavioral Health Services at the Frederick County Health Department said. “Preliminary research into raw data from 2019 indicates that 90 percent of citations and 56 percent of arrests by FPD (in the piloted area) would have been eligible for LEAD services.” 

"Our officers are routinely called upon to deal with non-violent low-level offenses committed by individuals struggling with issues such as addiction, homelessness, and behavioral health problems. Arresting and prosecuting these people has proven time after time to be an ineffective way of deterring criminal activity and does nothing to help these individuals get their lives back on track,” said Frederick Chief of Police Jason Lando. “LEAD is not a free pass but rather provides an alternative solution to the criminal justice system in these cases. The goal of LEAD is to address the underlying cause of the problem, which will ultimately result in better outcomes for the individual, the police, and the community as a whole." 

The City of Frederick is thankful for the collaboration of our partner agencies to make this important initiative come to fruition.  

If you have questions about LEAD, contact Jessica Ellis, LEAD Program Manager at 301-600-1702. 

 

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