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CJ Students Learn Alternative Methods in Law Enforcement

Retired Albany Police Chief Brendan CoxRetired Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox, who is now Director of Policing Strategies for the LEAD National Support Bureau, spoke to Southern Vermont College students in the Introduction to Criminal Justice class. Cox shared how his work helps communities across the country to reform how systems look at problematic substance use, mental health, and poverty. Through the LEAD program, police officers exercise discretionary authority at point of contact to divert individuals to a community-based, harm-reduction intervention for law violations driven by unmet behavioral health needs. In lieu of the normal criminal justice system cycle, which is booking, detention, prosecution, conviction, and incarceration, individuals are instead referred into a trauma-informed intensive case-management program where a wide range of support services is received, including transitional and permanent housing and/or drug treatment. Tessa Sheades, a sophomore Criminal Justice major, commented, “Chief Cox was surprisingly honest on how the policing system was different when he was going through the ranks….” Tessa also said it was great to hear him say it was rewarding that the department he was in kept “evolving into a police agency that wants to help the public.”

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