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Pre-Arrest Diversion

Connecting individuals to substance use disorder and/or mental health treatment as an alternative to arrest.

As the opioid epidemic gains momentum, U.S. law enforcement agencies are recognizing a critical fact:

Arrest does little to deter individuals with substance use disorder from committing crimes.



There were more than 1.5 million drug arrests in the U.S. in 2016. Drug law violations account for nearly half of the people incarcerated in the federal prison system. These statistics show that incarceration or involvement in the justice system are not effective methods of crime prevention. They do not address any underlying behavioral health conditions, they do little to reduce recidivism, and they do not reduce the demand for illegal drugs in the community. However, the Pre-Arrest Diversion model of law enforcement response offers an innovative and effective way to meet these challenges.

Pre-Arrest Diversion, also known as Police Deflection, is the practice of law enforcement connecting individuals to substance use disorder and/or mental health treatment as an alternative to arrest. Many Pre-Arrest Diversion programs have been successfully implemented across the country. Using five distinct approaches, these programs are able to address the problem through a wide lens: from assisting victims of crime to offering options for recovery support.

In order to help law enforcement agencies create Pre-Arrest Diversion programs, SAFE Project created the Pre-Arrest Diversion Guide. This resource guide includes valuable information for those who are interested in starting a Pre-Arrest Diversion program that best suits their community and can be implemented in a way that helps law enforcement do their job of keeping the public safe.


Our Pre-Arrest Diversion Resource Guide contains four primary components:

  1. Business Case: Learn why Pre-Arrest Diversion is an effective approach to combating the addiction epidemic.
  2. Overview: See an outline of the five distinct pathways or approaches for Pre-Arrest Diversion.
  3. Case Studies: Take a look at some of the most innovative and successful programs utilizing these five pathways.
  4. Additional background, resources and contact information for law enforcement agencies who are successfully running PAD programs.

Fill out the form below to download the guide.