The LEAD model (known as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion and now also known as Let Everyone Advance with Dignity) enhances safety, health, and equity by building a community-based alternative to arrest and incarceration for people whose unlawful behavior stems from unmanaged substance use, mental health challenges, or extreme poverty.
Over 35 communities across the U.S. have adopted the LEAD program, including Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Denver County, and Philadelphia. Through their example, Whatcom County’s LEAD partners are building a program that meets our community’s needs. Read more about the program’s successes in other communities at www.leadbureau.org/evaluations.
Who LEAD Serves
LEAD works with people who have frequent interactions with law enforcement and low-level criminal offenses emanating from mental and behavioral health challenges, substance use, homelessness and extreme poverty.
After joining the program, members get help with their immediate worries–a meal, place to sleep, or clean clothes. But they continue building a relationship with their intensive case manager over the months to deal with the roots of their challenges.
They can get help with needs that are difficult to manage alone, including stable housing, medication management, drug treatment, job opportunities, and family reconciliation.
Through the intensive case manager, members have someone on “their side”: a person who understands their struggles and offers a kind word, rides to appointments, and assistance navigating our systems
LEAD Community Partners
The Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office introduced LEAD to our community in 2019 and the program launched in 2020. Multiple organizations have since joined in partnership:
Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office
Bellingham Police Department
All municipal police departments in Whatcom County
Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Bellingham City Attorney’s Office
Whatcom County Probation
Whatcom County Therapeutic Courts
Whatcom County Public Defender’s Office
Whatcom County Jail
Northwest Youth Services
Lake Whatcom Residential & Treatment Center
Cascade Medical Advantage
Unity Care NW
SeaMar Community Health Center
Catholic Community Services
PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center
And many more!
LEAD Program Success
Watch the following video to hear voices from the LEAD program and how the program has impacted people within Whatcom County.