Law enforcement agencies in Lincoln County have partnered to implement a program called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD®. The Lincoln County LEAD® program is a cooperative effort between the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office, Lincoln City Police Department, Newport Police Department, Toledo Police Department, and Reconnections Counseling. Lincoln County LEAD® is intended to reduce the harm that an offender causes him or herself and the community. Similar programs have been proven to reduce recidivism rates of the successful participants.
Lincoln County LEAD® is designed to allow law enforcement officers in the field to redirect
those suspects engaged in low-level criminal activity to services and resources instead of jail and prosecution. In the past, low-level possession or public order offenses were treated the same as any other criminal offense: the only recourse was to take the offender into custody and enter them in the criminal justice system. With Lincoln County LEAD®, the offender is assigned a navigator who develops an individualized service plan based upon a needs assessment. The navigator uses the service plan to create pathways for support and access to services that address the behaviors which cause criminal activity.
Because participation in Lincoln County LEAD® is voluntary, it is only accessed via a mutual agreement between the offender, law enforcement officer, and victim (for certain crimes).
Lincoln County Sheriff Curtis Landers stated, “It is wonderful to finally have an alternative that addresses the causes of some criminal activity. We’ve arrested the same people for the same things, time and time again, and often achieved the same ‘revolving door’ result. I think this program can be the course correction many low-level offenders need to get back on track.”
Lincoln County LEAD® is patterned off highly successful programs in other jurisdictions around Oregon and the United States. This program is the first of its kind in Lincoln County. In early 2020, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office applied for and received a $288,000 Oregon IMPACTS grant to fund the Lincoln County LEAD® program. Case management for the Lincoln County LEAD® program will be provided by the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office and Reconnections Counseling. The first offender-turned-client was accepted into Lincoln County LEAD® on October 7th, 2020.