Amherst Police Department 111 Main Street
While the town recently lost a $900,000 federal grant to benefit low and moderate income residents and a $4.2 million state grant for road improvements in North Amherst, a potentially lifesaving Amherst Police Department regional program designed to aid those devastated by the horror of sexual assault or domestic abuse snagged a $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
The money will continue to fund a full-time counselor who splits her time between UMass and the town, add a part-time counselor for Northampton PD, increase training for all three departments and fund an additional full-time Amherst police officer whose exclusive beat will be sexual assault and domestic violence cases.
The renewal/expansion of the program, originally founded two years ago with $174,000 Justice Department grant, comes soon after our comfortable college town was rocked by a series of sensational sexual assault cases.
A long-form narrative first-person piece published on the front page of the Amherst College student newspaper shone a glaring spotlight on the inadequate system the prestigious college used for handling such sensitive matters.
Followed by a shocking incident of alleged gang rape at a UMass dormitory.
And just when you thought it could not get any worse, the heartrending story of yet another Amherst College student ill-served by an in-house amateur response to a situation requiring highly trained professionals.
Trey Malone committed suicide, leaving behind a devastatingly poignant final farewell blaming his self-induced death on the sexual assault by a fellow student, made even worse by the way Amherst College (mis) handled it.
Could this regional civilian advocacy program have made a difference for Trey? Although funding is provided by the "Office on Violence Against Women" men most certainly are not excluded.
But, since Amherst College didn't report the incident to local police or the district attorney's office, we will never know.
This essential service program has helped hundreds over the past two years, and will now continue to help hundreds into the future.