Dutchess County Launches New Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Initiative

Dutchess County Launches New
Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Initiative 


Poughkeepsie … The Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) is working alongside partners People USA and the City of Poughkeepsie Police to provide community-based care and outreach pilot program to those who may not utilize conventional methods through the innovative LEAD approach. Since the launch of Dutchess County’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) pilot program on Feb. 1st, 21 referrals were submitted by law enforcement, with 10 individuals choosing to participate in the program and get connected with a higher level of care to meet their individual needs.


LEAD is an evidence-based street outreach program designed to reach individuals with unmet behavioral health needs who have not connected with traditional health and human services and often wind up in a criminal justice system cycle through a variety of violations such as drug use, public intoxication or nuisance calls. Many of these individuals are homeless and have been, for a variety of reasons, reluctant to utilize traditional health and human services, such as emergency shelter housing, addiction treatment, temporary benefit assistance or other services.


The main goals of LEAD include:

  • Reorient government response to public safety, disorders and health related social problems;
  • Improve community safety and public health through evidence-based, harm-reduction interventions;
  • Reduce the number of people entering the criminal justice system for low-level, non-violent offenses;
  • Decrease racial disparities within the criminal justice system; and
  • Strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the community.


Betsy Manzi, DBCH’s LEAD Project Manager said, “Our team is so thrilled with the progress the LEAD program has made since the launch. We are confident the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program will have a profound impact on Dutchess County. Utilizing unconventional methods to help those who refuse traditional behavioral health services will benefit not only those enrolled in the program, but the County community as a whole. We appreciate the dedication of law enforcement, mental health providers and community agencies that have come together to put the LEAD initiative in motion.”


To be eligible for LEAD, one must be a resident of Dutchess County and be referred by a law-enforcement officer. Participating law enforcement take part in additional mental health and harm reduction training and have the discretion, at the point of contact, to divert individuals to the LEAD program, rather than arrest or ticket them. Currently, referrals are being solely accepted by City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, however, the program management sees LEAD opening for other municipalities in the future.


Individuals in the program are connected to case managers who meet them “where they are” to build rapport and trust as they help complete the intake process, including an assessment and support plan.

Case managers assist them in overcoming obstacles that may have prevented them from getting help previously, and they are assigned to a limited number of cases to be able to maintain continued contact and care.


PeopleUSA CEO Steve Miccio said, “PeopleUSA is proud to partner with Dutchess County on the LEAD project. We’re very pleased to see the program off to such a good start. Our staff has dedicated their time and attention to helping this unserved population and I expect continued success.”


In addition to the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, PeopleUSA and DBCH, several County Government agencies have collaborated to create the LEAD program, including the:


  • Department of Community and Family Services;
  • Office of Probation and Community Corrections;
  • Public Defender’s Office; and
  • District Attorney’s office


This pilot program is funded by dollars Dutchess County received as the first installment in the Opioid Manufacturers Settlement which must be used to support treatment of Opioid or Substance Use Disorders and/or Mental health conditions through evidence based, evidence informed, or promising programs or strategies.


For more information on behavioral health services available throughout Dutchess County visit the County’s website.



Author: Harlem Valley News