Former Refugee Takes LEAD Downtown

 Jesus Garzon Ospina

Jesus Garzon Ospina

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 

A Gateway Community College student who first came to New Haven over 15 years ago as a refugee fleeing violence in Colombia has been tapped to help low-level, non-violent drug offenders on the New Haven Green avoid arrest and receive stable housing, employment and medical rehabilitation.

At Tuesday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team (DWSCMT) on the second floor of City Hall, the 20-year-old political science student at Gateway Community College, Jesus Garzon Ospina, introduced himself as the neighborhood’s new community liaison for the city’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.

LEAD is an experimental pre-arrest diversion initiative that the city launched at the end of November in the Hill and Downtown neighborhoods. The program, which was founded in Seattle and has been adopted in Albany, Baltimore, and Bangor, Maine, seeks to provide case management and rehabilitative social services instead of arrests and incarceration for low-level offenders engaged in drug abuse, prostitution and other non-violent street crimes.

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