LEAD Program

The Burien Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program will divert people who have committed certain misdemeanors into community-based treatment and support services—including housing, health care, job training, treatment and mental health support—instead of processing them through the traditional criminal justice system. Burien LEAD’s goal is to improve public safety and public order, and to reduce the criminal behavior of people who participate in the program. The misdemeanors eligible for the program include low-level drug possession (VUCSA), trespass, prostitution, misdemeanor theft, and unlawful bus conduct. Any individual victims would be consulted about the proposal to divert and their views would be taken into account. All referrals to LEAD will be screened and approved by law enforcement.

Individuals who have certain violent offenses in their criminal history will not be eligible to participate. The program will not work with traffic-related offenses including DUI, domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, murder and felony assault, and gang-related activity.

Launched in October 2011, the program is operational in most police precincts of the Seattle Police Department and Metro Transit Police. The national LEAD program operates in 30 communities across the country, from large cities to small rural communities. The Burien LEAD program launches in early June 2019.

An evaluation by researchers at the University of Washington in 2015 showed that LEAD significantly reduced recidivism. People in LEAD were 58 percent less likely than people in the control group to be arrested.

Outreach workers will be on-call 24-7. Case managers will be expected to handle up to 25 cases at one time. The program will have capacity to serve up to 100 people in Burien per year.