AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The Amherst Police received a grant to help them better serve the needs of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
It’s a $300,000 grant. The money will fund one part-time and one full-time civilian advocate.
The civilian advocates will work for the Center for Women and Communities in Amherst, but they will be on call for the police departments of Amherst, UMass and Northampton. It’ll be their job to help victims with their concerns and emotional well being.
Since 2010 these advocates have served more than 350 victims, and helped about 200 police officers get vital training.
Amherst Police Captain Jennifer Gunderson told 22News the advocates allow the police to focus on the actual crime. “As police officers we really get overwhelmed and we focus on the crime and the incident and unfortunately there isn’t time to deal with some of the issues and special concerns that the survivor has.”
Gundersen said the presence of the advocates also helps to forge better trust between victims, and the justice system. The grant will also help support the Center for Women and Communities coordination of the Sexual Assault Response Team in Hampshire County.