Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $900,000)
ABSTRACT: New Orleans Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion
The City of New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) is applying for COSSAP grant funds as a subcategory 1b applicant for a city or region with a population between 100,000 and 500,000. The project will serve the city of New Orleans (which is contiguous with Orleans Parish) which has an estimated population of 390,144 in 2019 according to the US Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/orleansparishlouisiana,US). NOHD is seeking COSSAP grant funds to support its Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) initiative, a collaboration between NOHD the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), the City Attorney’s Office (the chief prosecutor), the Orleans Public Defenders Office, and other key stakeholders. LEAD is a public health approach to policing for those who are criminalized for underlying and unmet behavioral health needs. LEAD in New Orleans provides an opportunity for law enforcement to divert those at the point of an offense for low-level crimes to case management rather than making an arrest. LEAD currently is allowed to operate within NOPD’s 8th District, the downtown area of the city.
The COSSAP grant funds are being requested to support a team of LEAD direct service staff. This team would include a case management supervisor overseeing a team of case managers and peer support specialists tasked to provide services within the fidelity of the LEAD model. Major tenants of this approach include providing intensive case management services within a person-centered, trauma-informed, and harm-reduction framework. LEAD case management staff work to address the root causes of behaviors that led participants to encounters with law enforcement. This approach also benefits NOPD by providing a long-term solution that has historically been addressed through the immediate response of an arrest.
NOHD will draft a Request for Proposals (RFP) for local social service agencies to apply to provide LEAD case management services, and NOHD will assist the selected agency through administrative support. Goals of the initiative include reducing municipal arrests and re-arrests in the 8th District related to mental illness and substance use through LEAD diversions to case management. Additional goals include potentially expanding LEAD eligible charges to include simple possession of illicit drugs and developing and implementing an evaluation plan. There are four priority areas addressed within this application which include: high rates of overdose deaths, persistent-poverty county, promoting civil rights, and building trust between law-enforcement and the community.