Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a program designed to divert low-level offenders from citation and/or arrest, and increase connections to harm reduction based, individualized case management.  The program involves a close partnership between social service providers and law enforcement.  While LEAD is not specifically a program to reduce homelessness, a large percentage of individuals encountered by LEAD are individuals experiencing homelessness or individuals at imminent risk of homelessness.

Oahu LEAD Pilot Program. 
The Oahu LEAD Pilot launched in July 2018, and targeted the Chinatown and Iwilei areas, with Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center serving as the primary service provider, in partnership with the Honolulu Police Department and Hawaii Department of Public Safety’s Sheriff Division.  Between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, 47 individuals were referred to Oahu LEAD, and 37 were enrolled in and received services through the program.  A one year evaluation of the Oahu LEAD Pilot found the following:

  • After referral to the program, clients had 55% fewer cited encounters with law enforcement.
  • On average, days spent unsheltered decreased by 38% and days spent in emergency shelter increased by 138%.
  • The number of emergency room visits decreased from 32% to 19% between the previous month and last assessment.

Statewide Expansion of LEAD.
Act 209, Session Laws of Hawaii 2018, provided funding for LEAD pilot programs on Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii island.   Based on lessons learned from the Oahu LEAD Pilot, the Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Island pilots include a shelter and housing component that provides short-term stabilization beds for LEAD clients.   The following organizations are administering LEAD in the areas below:

The Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney’s office and Police Departments are also key partners in the neighbor island LEAD programs.

A Hui of Providers and Partners. 
In addition to service providers and law enforcement, LEAD in Hawaii includes a coalition of over-25 organizations and government agencies that meet at least monthly.  The monthly meetings include an overview of program outcomes, discussion about communication and outreach strategies, and discussions related to advocacy and program expansion.   The Oahu LEAD, Hawaii Island LEAD, Maui LEAD, and Kauai LEAD programs all are encouraged to participate in these regular monthly meetings.   To learn more, please click here.

Based on a National Model.
The local LEAD Pilots are based on the initial LEAD program launched in Seattle, Washington, which has since been replicated in multiple other communities nationwide.   The local LEAD Pilots receive technical assistance and consultation from the LEAD National Support Bureau to ensure fidelity to the program model.

LEAD is one of a number of diversion programs initiated by Hawaii law enforcement to strengthen services for homeless individuals.   The efforts of Hawaii law enforcement agencies to partner with homeless services was recently highlighted in a U.S. Interagency Council on Homeless and Council of State Governments joint policy brief on Strengthening Partnerships Between Law Enforcement and Homeless Services Systems.