Howard County Police Department, in collaboration with community partners, have launched a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program. The LEAD program allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaging in misdemeanor crimes to community-based services instead of prosecution and incarceration. The goal of the program is to improve public health and public safety by reducing future harm and criminal behaviors caused by individuals engaged in crimes related to unmet behavior health needs.

LEAD is an evidence-based systems approach that began in Seattle, WA in 2011. There are now 52 LEAD initiatives across the country with over 17 additional programs launching nationwide. Per the LEAD National Bureau, the program has reduced recidivism of its participants by 58% and has an average cost savings of around $3,000 dollars for each participant in LEAD vs. the “system as usual” approach.

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Eligibility Requirement

  • Howard County resident or if housing is unstable, reason to believe the individual spends considerable time in the county
  • Adults (18 years old and over)
  • Must knowingly and willingly be able to provide consent to participate
  • Not a risk to self or others

Eligible non-violent offenses

  • Misdemeanor controlled dangerous substance (CDS) possession
  • Prostitution
  • Misdemeanor theft
  • 4th degree burglary (unoccupied building or outbuilding)
  • Rogue and vagabond
  • Malicious destruction of property
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Nuisance crimes
  • Has no existing peace or protective order prohibiting contact with a current LEAD participant or LEAD staff member

Program process

LEAD Program Process

Referral types


Referral include, but are not limited, to:

  • Housing referral 
  • benefit navigation
  • linkage to primary care
  • mental health
  • recovery resources
  • job training

Community partners


The LEAD program is made possible through the support of many community partners.

  • Office of County Executive
  • Howard County Police Department 
  • Howard County Health Department
  • Howard County State's Attorney's Office
  • Howard County Public Defender's Officer
  • Howard County Department of Corrections
  • Howard County Sheriff's Office

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