Co-LEAD: adapting LEAD for the COVID-19 crisis.
Co-LEAD is a temporary adaptation of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in Seattle and Burien, during the COVID-19 emergency period. “Co-“stands for both COVID and Co-Responder.

Co-LEAD responds to these realities:

  • Local jails have implemented booking guidelines that preclude most bookings for non-violent and public order offenses.

  • Courts have already granted motions to release many individuals in order to reduce the population of local jails--yet many of those released are struggling to meet their basic needs. There are almost no legal income streams accessible to them, they often lack a location to shelter in place, and the normal (though inadequate) systems of support for people with behavioral health conditions who are living homeless are mostly functionally inaccessible.

  • Police agencies have issued guidelines for officers/deputies to engage with many situations only at distance, due to COVID-19 transmission considerations, and are at a loss for a solution for some problematic situations without resources to address individuals’ basic needs.

In Co-LEAD, the Public Defender Association, the project manager for the classic LEAD program in Seattle/King County, is:

  • Deploying a temporary team of intensive outreach responders and case managers, along with medical care providers.

  • Placing people identified by defense lawyers, prosecutors, jails and the courts as needing stabilization and support in the community, in temporary lodging in motels and hotels, whenever such a placement appears viable. Up to 200 hotel rooms will be secured, mostly in hotels that normally serve a traveling population that is not booking rooms due to COVID-19 restrictions.

  • Addressing the basic needs of Co-LEAD participants, using gift cards, providing cell phones, access to food, sanitation supplies, and crisis management needs.

  • Providing 24/7 on-call response to crisis needs.

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