What is LEAD?

LEAD is a voluntary pre-booking diversion program developed with the community which allows law enforcement to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or sex work activity to community-based programs and services, instead of jail and prosecution. By diverting eligible individuals to services, LEAD is committed to improving public safety and public order and reducing the criminal behavior of people who participate in the program. To learn more about LEAD, visit LEAD Support Bureau.

Who does LEAD help? 

Adults residing in Gaston County whose criminal justice involvement stems from problematic substance use, mental illness, poverty, and/or homelessness, and who have barriers to accessing assistance through traditional social service programs.

How does LEAD work?

LEAD provides long-term, client-directed, non-coercive, street-based case-management based on harm-reduction principles. Case managers work frequently with LEAD participants to build trust and develop goals, which are expected to change over time. For example, someone comes to LEAD needing an ID and housing may move on to working on medical issues, eventually asking for help accessing inpatient treatment resources, even years into the relationship.

Who is involved with LEAD?

The Gaston County Police Department partners with the Gaston County District Attorney’s Office, Olive Branch Ministry, Gaston Controlled Substances Coalition, Alternative Community Penalties Program, Inc., and local treatment providers. 

How can the community help?

The program welcomes donations of bottled water, sports drinks, packs of crackers/trail mix, and non-perishable, microwaveable, individual-serving sized foods such as soup and macaroni. 

We also welcome donations of gift cards to fast food restaurants, grocery stores and big-box retailers so that case managers can help meet the immediate needs of program participants.  

The community is also vital in spreading the word about LEAD and supporting the mission, so please contact us to schedule a presentation for your organization or business. 


Gaston County Police launch diversion program (gastongazette.com)
Taking the LEAD (Program) | Savvy Citizen: A Gaston County Podcast (podbean.com)
Gaston County, NC gets new crime diversion program | wcnc.com