PAD Programs as Public Health Policy

The Police, Treatment and Community Collaborative (PTACC), an organization of law enforcement officials, experts and practitioners, defines PADs as a public health solution for better public safety, which moves individuals away from the justice system without ever entering it. It considers behavioral health intervention as the defining characteristic of a PAD program, where police bridge people to the services they may not have been able to access otherwise. 

There are many PAD programs, which vary in target population and services. Each community has specific needs and service capacities that should be considered in designing an appropriate PAD program. The PTAC Collaborative uses a helpful framework in comparing various programs. It defines five “pathways” in which PAD programs identify individuals and connect them to services. 



Pre-arrest diversion program types

Pathway to intervention
Individual initiates contact with law enforcement for a treatment referral (without fear of arrest) by approaching a designated station or agents. A warm handoff is preferred.
Active outreach
Law enforcement actively identify individuals in need of services who are then transfered to treatment provider through a warm handoff.
Naloxone plus
Engagement with treatment occurs due to and following an overdose response, when victim may be most amenable and crisis-level treatment is available.
Officer prevention
Law enforcement initiates treatment upon engaging with an individual; no charges are filed.
Officer intervention
Law enforcement initiates treatment engagement; charges are held in abeyance or citations issued, with requirement for completion of treatment and/or social service plan.
What is a warm handoff? A term used by medical and addiction treatment provider, a warm handoff in the PAD context is a transfer to services which is conducted in person between law enforcement and a service provider. All aspects of the transfer take place in the presence of the patient, who is included as a team member so he or she can hear the discussion and plan for care. For more information, check out the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Quick Start Guide.
When jurisdictions choose a service provider to partner with for diversion programs, it is important to consider whether it provides services that are trauma-informed, are culturally competent, and provide language-specific services or interpretation for those with limited English proficiency.