Reducing Recidivism With LEAD Program

November 12, 2021 by Devin Culham

Reducing Recidivism With LEAD Program

Reducing recidivism is a common issue many public safety agencies experience in their communities. Often, law enforcement units are called to respond to individuals who may be suffering from symptoms of addiction or struggling mental health.

To provide better support for its recidivist contacts, Wyoming’s Cheyenne Police Department embarked on an innovative Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program to target resources to individuals with ailing circumstances.

“Before LEAD, the only multiple discipline-based programs have been through the courts (drug court, DUI court, Veterans Court) and they have been criminal justice oriented,” said Hailey Hayden, Cheyenne PD’s LEAD case manager. “We had hundreds of cases of public intoxication, officers finding people passed out on the streets due to their drug use, thefts from people admitting to doing so in order to feed their addiction, the list goes on and on.”

According to Hayden, law enforcement officers said they could name 30 people who they came on contact with on an almost daily basis.

“While we did have a lot of first-time offenders, we were finding a theme of the same names of people who struggle being with addiction being thrown out there, followed by the question, ‘What can we do?’ Hayden recounted. “With this, it acknowledged that jail was not enough for people, and we needed a better treatment option.”

Prior to the LEAD program, Cheyenne had a lack of resources that were particularly geared toward individuals struggling with substance abuse issues. Individuals looking for services were being put on three-month wait lists, which according to Hayden, made it difficult for people to stay motivated to change. Often leading to individuals reoffending to continue to feed their addictions.

“In Laramie County, there is no program here that specifically allows people to not be completely abstinent,” shared Hayden. “LEAD realized that asking this of people was not always doable for some, and so, we want people to know they have someone to reach out to when they are actively using so that we can be there for them and get them help.”

Cheyenne PD used its law enforcement records system to gather data to help determine the scope of the problem.

Since the program’s full launch in August of 2020, as many as 36 individuals have been added to LEAD. Cheyenne PD used law enforcement records solutions to easily search candidates to determine whether they met program criteria.

When law enforcement contacts an individual in the program, Hayden is called to assist to address the needs of program members. However, although the program is designed to avoid contacts re-offending, it doesn’t prevent law enforcement to step in during serious offenses.

“If we can’t get to them before that [and individuals] happen to have contact with law enforcement out in the community, the officer has discretion on whether to take them to jail or refer them to the LEAD program to see if they can receive help catered toward what they need,” Hayden said.

Some of the needs that Hayden helps provide are clothing, food, shelter, and access to medical professionals.

Although the program has experienced some COVID-19-related timeline delays since its initial implementation in 2019, so far, the results are promising.

“LEAD participants are 58% less likely to be arrested after enrollment in the LEAD program, compared to those who went through the ‘system as usual’ criminal justice processing,” said Hayden.

Related Content