Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sheriff's Office mental health bureau with heart and soul

Collier Sheriff's Office lieutenant runs mental health bureau with heart and soul

Naples Daily News
Liz Freeman
Nov. 17, 2018
There are many people in crisis: in plain sight peddling bicycles on local roads, in and out of jail and the courts, and hidden behind closed doors in picturesque Collier County.
A former Collier County Sheriff's Office road patrol duty deputy, Lt. Leslie Weidenhammer, discusses how the mental health bureau helps people in crisis. Liz Freeman

Lt. Leslie Weidenhammer lifts up the mentally ill from their dark places.

Her memory runs deep. She knows the names of pets. Her internal radar as a law enforcement officer is ever-ready. Yet she also has a master’s degree in mental health counseling.

“It’s Leslie. I’m here to check on you,” she says gently, standing on a doorstep where she has stood countless times.

She gauges stress in the voice coming from the other side of the locked door, of a woman with schizophrenia.

Weidenhammer, 53, listens for the sound of furniture being pushed away from the door, whether paranoia has its grip today.

“Thankfully, she will call me when she is not doing well,” Weidenhammer said. “She has my cellphone.”
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