About LEAD® Santa Fe

A Public Safety and Public Health Dilemma

In 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that the Santa Fe area (the city and the county, including parts of Española) ranked second in the country in residential burglaries per 100,000 residents. According to Santa Fe police statistics, property crimes rose slightly in 2012 compared to 2011. Residential burglaries increased to 802 from 782 the previous year. And, at the root of this property crime problem is serious drug addiction. New Mexico has one of the highest opioid-related drug overdose death rates in the nation. Overdose has surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death. ​

Task Force Recommendation - Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Pre-Booking Diversion Program

Handling low-level, non-violent drug offenders in the local and state criminal justice system is not only costly but evidence suggests that this is not a way to break the cycle of addiction or enhance public safety. Instead, many people often go through the system without any impact on their behavior and end up costing the system far more than they would if they were diverted immediately into treatment. Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion identifies low-level drug offenders for whom probable cause exists for an arrest and redirects them from jail and prosecution by immediately providing linkages to treatment/support services. With the economic strain on our local counties, pre-booking diversion programs offer a viable, cost-effective alternative to the status quo that can positively impact Santa Fe. Treatment instead of incarceration is popular among New Mexican voters - 71% of New Mexico voters support allowing a person caught with small amounts of drugs to be offered drug treatment instead of being incarcerated. (Survey of New Mexico Voter Attitudes, SJC Research, January 29 – February 1, 2007.)

Guiding principles

Booking, prosecuting and jailing individuals who commit low-level drug offenses has had limited effect on improving public safety, public health and public order. ​

  • LEAD seeks to improve public safety, reduce crime, and reduce the harm to the individual and the community by supporting an intensive case management approach to drug use.

Interventions that connect low-level drug offenders with services may cost less and be more successful at reducing future criminal behavior and improving health.

  • LEAD aims to reduce the cost of drug use to the criminal justice and public health systems by connecting low-level drug offenders to support services instead of jail.

Problematic drug use and addiction is a public health issue not a criminal issue. ​

  • LEAD aims to reduce the stigma related to drug useby removing the moral and legal judgments of persons addicted or dependent on drugs by applying: ​
    • Community policing,
    • Harm reduction, and
    • Training about the continuum of drug use, the cycle of recovery, and scope of drug treatment therapies

Core Elements

There are core elements to a successful LEAD program that pertain to the practice of case management, policing, prosecution and community public safety groups. To learn more, click on the following PDFs.

Essential Principles for Successful LEAD Implementation

Core Principles for Policing Role in LEAD

Core Principles for Successful Management

Core Principles for Prosecutor Role in LEAD

Role of Community Safety Groups in LEAD