LEAD program creates partnership between law enforcement and recovery specialists

GREENBRIER COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, also known as LEAD, is a national program that exists throughout the State of West Virginia.

This connects substance use disorder recovery specialists with local law enforcement to get people in rehab rather than prison. 

In Greenbrier, Nicholas, Pocahontas, and Nicholas Counties, Travis Butts is the LEAD coordinator working with Seneca Health.

“I actually used to be a correctional officer, and I watched people with these addictions come in, and they really didn’t have the help that they needed,” Butts said.  

Right now, he works with Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department, State Police and city police. If they come across someone who is a repeat offender but seems to be committing crimes because of their substance use disorder, they can refer them to Butts.

From there, he will connect them with the help they need and put them in touch with Jeffery Blackburn, one of Seneca’s peer recovery specialists. 

“We’re able to sit down and map out their recovery plan,” Blackburn said. “Instead of throwing them in jail, they get out; they’re back to the same thing, back to the same thing. You know, we’re able to establish a connection and build a rapport with these people.” 

This program is grant-funded, so it costs the taxpayer nothing, and since Butts came on in May as the coordinator, he has already had five people get placed into programs. 

“It’s hard to get started, but once you get that mindset going, it’s a lot easier to maintain,” Butts said.  

“We start adjusting the things that fuel their addiction rather than just calling them an addict and shutting the door on them. As I said, it’s really hopeful for them, and it’s why, I mean in peer recovery, why we do what we do,” Blackburn said.  

Because Seneca serves multiple counties, they’re working on setting up partnerships with other law enforcement agencies as well. 

 

Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.