The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women has awarded $300,000 to the Amherst Police Department that will fund several positions focused on dealing with cases of sexual and domestic violence.
The grant was obtained in collaboration with the UMass Police Department, the campus’s Center for Women and Community (CWC) and the Northampton Police Department.
The grant will continue to fund a full-time civilian advocate, Ilana Gerjuoy, who currently works on-site with the Amherst and UMass police departments assisting survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Another civilian advocate will be hired to work two days week at the Northampton Police Department. Both advocate positions are under the CWC.
The grant will also fund a new full-time officer at the Amherst Police Department who will be assigned to address cases of sexual and domestic violence.
Since the project began in October 2010, more than 200 survivors of sexual or domestic violence have been served by the civilian advocate. The grant has enabled 260 community and campus professionals, including nearly 200 police officers, to receive training on related issues such as stalking technology and survivors with disabilities. In addition, the grant has significantly enhanced the coordination of efforts of Amherst and UMass police to prevent and respond to sexual and domestic violence.
Other funding from the grant will support training for police officers from all three departments on investigating domestic and sexual violence involving survivors with mental health issues, and coordination of a county-wide Sexual Assault Response Team that includes law enforcement and health care personnel, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office and advocates.
“The collaborative programs with the CWC and the University Police Department has made a positive impact on the Amherst community by filling a void with survivor advocacy,” said Amherst Police Chief Scott P. Livingstone in a press release. “We are very fortunate to have received additional funding from the U.S. Department of Justice to expand this program with the City of Northampton. With this funding we hope to have a more regional and collaborative approach to impact and reduce the cycle of violence against women.”