BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — Baltimore Police and a mental health organization are launching a pilot program to offer some drug offenders treatment instead of jail.
Police and Behavioral Health System Baltimore announced Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD, at a news conference Monday.
Through the program, police officers can refer people suspected of low-level drug or prostitution crimes to case managers, who will help them get services, including drug treatment, mental health services, and housing assistance.
Baltimore City Lieutenant Steve Olson lost his brother to drug abuse and a part of a group involved in the LEAD program.
“The officers I have been surrounded with that work in the program care as much as I do. If I couldn’t save my brother, I would like to save yours. I would like to save your mother and your father, your brother and your sister. The passion on my end is matched by the officers that I work with. We can’t wait to start working.”
The program will be a three-year pilot in the west side of downtown. Officials say at least 60 people are expected to be served by the program at any given time.
Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen says it’s important to treat addiction as a chronic disease and not a moral failing. Baltimore City is the 6th U.S. City to use the LEAD program.
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