Lessons Learned From the First Two Years

Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program is the first known pre-booking diversion program for people arrested on narcotics and prostitution charges in the United States. Launched in October 2011, LEAD is the product of a multi-year collaboration involving a wide range of organizations, including The Defender Association’s Racial Disparity Project, the Seattle Police Department, the ACLU of Washington, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Seattle City Attorney’s office, the King County Sheriff’s Office, Evergreen Treatment Services, the King County Executive, the Washington State Department of Corrections, and others. 

This report draws on a number of data sources to provide an overview of LEAD’s principles and operations, and to distill important lessons about what has — and has not — worked well in the first two years of LEAD’s operations. The hope is that identification of these lessons will be useful to those interested in replicating LEAD in other jurisdictions or in enhancing its operations in Seattle. After briefly describing LEAD’s principles and operations, the report identifies key “lessons learned.” These are presented in four different categories: getting started; training; communication; and the transformation of institutional relationships.