On Wednesday morning, the Wilmington Police Department announced another tool in the battle against the region’s opioid epidemic. It’s called LEAD, and it involves a variety of agencies.
“As many of you know, in our country right now we’re in the middle of an opioid epidemic…”
That’s Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous, as he got together with eight agencies to sign a memorandum of understanding to implement LEAD, in the Wilmington area. It’s in effect in a handful of other U.S. cities.
Robert Childs is Executive Director of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition.
“The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD, is a pre-arrest diversion program. Meaning you don’t get a record on incarceration if you are enrolled in the program.”
“So say for example we identify the reason they use heroin in to self-medicate, due to a mental health diagnosis, let’s get them mental health help. So then they won’t be using heroin to self-medicate.”
The program was launched in Seattle in 2011. In Wilmington, 14 officers have been trained in LEAD, which will begin June 1.
Kenny House of Coastal Horizons likes the strategy.
“Oh absolutely, because this LEAD model brings forces together that help get people to treatment earlier, increase public safety, engage people in recovery-oriented services sooner, rather than later.”
Debra Vuocolo of RHA Health Services is also on board.
“Because this community is so engaged in doing something to help. To provide hope for addicts and not only addicts but public safety, so people can feel safer. Everybody is stepping to the plate. They’re going to make a difference.”
Wilmington becomes just the fifth city in the country to launch the program.
Learn more about LEAD on their website