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PRESS RELEASES

City of Pittsburgh Office of Community Health and Safety Celebrates Launch of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program

LEAD is an effective, replicable, and equitable diversion method that seeks to address the root causes of criminal justice involvement. 

PITTSBURGH — The Department of Public Safety’s Office of Community Health and Safety (OCHS) and Mayor Ed Gainey today celebrated the official launch of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in the City of Pittsburgh. 

The LEAD initiative is a community-based diversion approach with the goals of improving public safety and public order, and reducing unnecessary justice system involvement of people who participate in the program. It will provide individuals with substance use disorder and mental and behavioral health challenges with intense case management and person-centered social services focused on harm reduction in lieu of criminalization. 

“When we unveiled the Pittsburgh Plan for Peace, we talked about the need to create high quality, diversionary programs and opportunities for those at risk for falling into a life of violence," said Mayor Ed Gainey. “Signing onto this MOU will help us provide these types of programs, and is a promise kept to the residents of Pittsburgh.”  

The city has been exploring a diversion program since 2019. In other cities, similar programs have been shown to pay for themselves in the long run by decreasing court costs and crime. Thanks to the collaboration amongst various stakeholders, the City of Pittsburgh’s program has been awarded funding to cover start-up costs and most programmatic expenses for the first three years. 

“A law enforcement assisted diversion program has been a work in progress for a number of years in the City of Pittsburgh,” said Lee Schmidt, Director of Public Safety. “We are excited to launch this prevention-focused program that connects critical communities to resources and social services and ultimately allows our first responders to focus on emergent needs.” 

The program will launch in Spring 2024 in Police Zones 1 and 2 and will center on individuals repeatedly arrested for low-level offenses associated with unmet behavioral health needs, trauma, and/or extreme poverty. Examples of such offenses include Retail Theft, Simple Possession, Possession of Paraphernalia, Prostitution, Public Intoxication, Simple Trespass, Defiant Trespass, Criminal Trespass, and Disorderly Conduct. 

“The LEAD program has demonstrated a reduction in recidivism, homelessness, overdoses, and the high utilization of 911 services,” said Chief of Police Larry Scirotto. “The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is proud to partner on such an initiative and looks forward to even better relationships between law enforcement personnel and the community.”  

LEAD is made possible through the committed coordination and support of numerous stakeholders, including the Allegheny County Health Department, Department of Human Services, CONNECT, District Attorney’s office, Public Defender’s office, Allegheny County Courts, Allegheny County Probation and Parole, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and the national LEAD Support Bureau. 

Additional information on the City of Pittsburgh’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program can be found here

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Published

04.11.2024
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Contacts

Emily Bourne
Public Information Officer
Public Safety
emily.bourne@pittsburghpa.gov