Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion


A conversation between a recovering addict, Seattle cop, and a case manager on their experience as some of the first participants in an innovative harm reduction program.

The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a harm reduction program started in Seattle. Instead of incarcerating low level, repeat drug offenders, LEAD is a pre-booking diversion program treating addiction as a public health issue by connecting addicts to treatment services.

Its success brought the attention of the Obama White House who invited LEAD organizers to share the program with police chiefs, prosecutors, social workers and policy makers from across the country.

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Director: Tim Matsui
Cinematographers: Jessey Dearing, Mike Kane, David Ryder
Editor: Tim Matsui

Commissioned by the Public Defender Association and the Drug Policy Alliance


The Drug Policy Alliance was hosting the Public Defender Association at a harm reduction convening to spread the knowledge of the LEAD program. The Obama White House learned of this and invited the entire event to D.C., to be held on the White House campus. 

Wanting a way of explaining the program through film, the Public Defender Association hired me to create a concept. Their initial thought was to do documentary work in the field but given the tight deadline, I proposed a studio setting and a loosely guided but unscripted conversation between the three subjects. 

I captured this with eight cameras, allowing me to edit a more dynamic film and informative film. Due to scheduling and deadlines, from film date to delivery was one week. 

This film was then screened at the D.C. event to administrators, health care professionals, law enforcement and others from 22 cities across the nation who were looking to harm reduction models to address addiction. The film continues to be a resource to communities launching their own harm reduction programs.