Amherst Town Council approves the creation of the CRESS Agency

Tonight, the Amherst Town Council voted unanimously to approve the creation of the Community Responders for Equity, Safety, and Service Agency (CRESS). Below is the statement I read prior to my vote to approve the creation of the Agency.

I want to use my time for a few acknowledgements. I want to thank the residents for asking the Council to re-think what community safety means. I want to thank the Community Safety Working Group for doing the massive amount of work on rethinking community safety, proposing this program, and for continuing on afterwards to make it happen. Thank you to the Manager for listening and proposing an Agency to work in concert with our other two public safety departments. Thank you to our Fire and EMS Department for being a part of the discussion and for providing medical assistance both now and in the future to those in need.

And, I want to thank the Amherst Police Department for being willing to work with the community on such a significant matter that may have long-term effects on their own positions in Town. In the past 18 months of this work, I know I haven’t acknowledged their work enough. I appreciate the hard work they have done, not only throughout the pandemic, but before, too, to ensure that our community is safe. Their jobs have changed over time to encompass more than a police department should be responsible for. They’ve been asked to do far more than enforce laws. They’ve been asked to be social workers, mental healthcare providers, community liaisons and so much more. And, they’ve stepped up to the challenge, being trained for all of these additional roles and responding to these calls with professionalism. I see the creation of the CRESS Agency as a way to correct a path taken. We should have never put the burden of being social workers and mental health care providers on the APD. The CRESS agency will permit Amherst to provide these services even better.  I thank the APD for their work and their cooperation and look forward to seeing the three branches of our public safety department work closely with each other for the betterment of the entire town.