The Collier County Sheriff’s Office has more resources for helping those in a crisis and keeping them out of jail.
Lt. Leslie Weidenhammer says deputies are often put in impossible situations.
“We can’t provide treatment, we can’t provide counseling,” Weidenhammer said.
So far this year, they’ve responded to a thousand calls involving mental health.
“We are not always the ones that can make the situation better right then and there…and having the resources within our community is more important.”
The sheriff’s office hopes to grow those resources as they respond to people with mental health and substance abuse issues.
“We try to go out, connect them to resources that are within the community, and divert them from the criminal justice system,” Weidenhammer said.
Her department has added a certified deputy and a mental health clinician.
“Now we have more individuals within the unit that our volume can increase and we can go out and check potentially on more and more people.”
The need is there. The goal? To be first on the scene when someone is in crisis and free up other deputies for other calls.
“We would like to relieve them of some of that duty for those, as you mentioned earlier, those calls that are happening immediatelym the calls for service.”
The mental health bureau also has team members from the David Lawrence Center, a Collier County-based mental health treatment provider.