As the new year kicks off, so does the design for Burien’s version of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), a program that brings police, prosecutors and case managers together to move nonviolent, low-level offenders away from the criminal justice system and toward stability.
Law Enforcement Media Clips
Despite major legal and policy developments on behalf of crime victims since the landmark passage of the Victims of Crime Act in 1984, U.S. federal data collection efforts illustrate that significant gaps in access to and use of services persist for the majority of people touched by crime—including law enforcement–based victim assistance.
“Every act of violence is precipitated by another act of violence,” said Hasshan Batts, the director of operations for Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley. “So if someone is a survivor of a violent act, we would like to talk to them. We want to have crisis workers available 24-7.”
“They are people too, and some feel that they don’t belong,” police officer Gina Bell said simply before leaving the office dressed in her brown shirt and green pants, which designate the Homeless Outreach Street Team from regular patrol staff who are dressed in traditional blue. “It breaks my heart since we are trying to help them.”
Crisis-intervention training teaches officers to recognize symptoms of mental illness while conditioning them to decelerate their approach to someone in distress. Common tactics involve remaining at a distance to avoid startling or riling the person, attempting to persuade instead of demanding compliance, and posing open-ended questions to nurture conversation.
Police are being taught to use requests and explanations rather than commands to persuade subjects to comply. An officer might explain that he needs a driver to step out of the car so that he can see the driver doesn’t have a weapon, rather than ordering him to do so.
“Rural areas, which traditionally have had lower crime rates, have seen dramatic increases in incarceration rates,” says Jacob Kang-Brown, a senior research associate with the Vera Institute of Justice. “We see them now having the highest incarceration rates in the country.”
The implementation of gender awareness trainings—now part of the curriculum for all new employees—was just one step in a series of policy changes made by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department to address how transgender, gender-variant, and non-binary (TGN) people are arrested and housed at the local county jail.
Recently, the Westminster Police Department became the first in the state to meet the requirements among the seven agencies that have taken the pledge. Chief of Police Jeff Spaulding told us it was important Westminster be part of the campaign because “of the prevalence of these calls in the city and the need to ensure that officers are handling them in a safe and effective manner which optimizes the potential of a positive outcome for everyone involved.”
In a recent press release, Poughkeepsie’s police chief said that since more foot patrols like the Behavioral Evaluation and Assistance Team have been added, the department is receiving fewer calls for service, and departments in neighboring communities are seeking out grants to start similar programs.