Around Amherst: CRESS director welcomes input as team is sworn in July 5

  • Earl Miller, director of the town of Amherst’s CRESS department, Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service, speaks at a “Cuppa’ Joe” event with Town Manager Paul Bockelman, at right, attended by about 40 people on Friday, April 15, 2022, at the Bangs Community Center. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/27/2022 12:33:00 PM

AMHERST — Many communities examined whether there were other ways to provide public safety services following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, but two years later Amherst is one of the few that is actually moving forward with a police alternative.

For Earl Miller, the director of the Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service program, Amherst demonstrated how brave it is by having the conversations and battles about the need for an alternative in public, and while he didn’t start the position until March, he watched recordings of all the meetings associated with the creation of CRESS.

Now, with eight responders to be sworn into their jobs during a ceremony July 5 at 10 a.m. at the Bangs Community Center, Miller wants the public to know the service is there for them.

“We’re committed to being the third leg of public safety,” Miller said during a recent community forum, where he sat alongside Police Capt. Gabriel Ting to discuss the future of the town’s public safety.

This will be the first new public safety department in more than a century.

Also beginning work that day will be the town’s first director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Pamela Nolan Young.

Miller said he isn’t ready to prescribe solutions yet, but instead will ask people what the challenges are and where needs are unmet, whether in mental health, homelessness or veterans affairs.

The department’s success, he said, will depend on people being vulnerable and showing each other soft spots.

Miller pledged to be available for parents and schools, as well, and to listen. “This community has no problem telling me what it wants,” Miller said.

Ting said the Police Department is looking forward to the new department and prides itself on being both progressive and open-minded in its approach to public safety.

Book sale returns

The League of Women Voters is bringing back its annual book sale after taking the past two years off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the sale will not be until July 29-31 and Aug. 5-6, the League is seeking people to donate books, DVDs, compact discs and vinyl records starting in early July.

Donations should be brought to the Fort River Elementary School gymnasium on South East Street starting July 2. Volunteers will be on hand to collect books every day except Independence Day through July 14, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Independence Day events

Amherst’s celebration of activities for Independence Day will take place July 1 beginning at 5 p.m. in the fields near the University of Massachusetts football stadium.

There will be games and activities for children, food and beer being sold, and a hot air balloon. Parking is free, though donations will be encouraged to cover the cost of the fireworks that will be shot off at 9 p.m.

On the morning of July 4, the South Amherst community will stage its annual event, including a children’s bicycle parade, on the South Amherst green.

Marmoset experiments at UMass

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has been protesting the use of marmoset monkeys in laboratory experiments at UMass, announced that it has acquired a video with footage of one of the subjects of the experiment, named Anakin.

Amy Meyer, PETA’s manager of Primate Experimentation Campaigns, said while PETA knew of Anakin’s existence, the organization only recently learned that he was put down following an injury in which his tail swelled for a month.

PETA is calling on the National Institutes of Health to stop funding the ongoing studies and is urging the university’s animal use oversight committee to put an end to experiments.

“UMass should shut down this miserable laboratory today,” said PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo.

According to PETA’s information, Anakin was born in a South African breeding compound and placed in a tiny cage. Alone for months, he was kept thirsty and given a sip of fluid when he cooperated as researchers took images of his brain, and was also confined to a cramped transport box.

UMass researcher gets grant

UMass geoscientist and engineer Colin Gleason has received a $2.1 million NASA grant to work with computer science colleagues at both UMass and the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, to create a cloud-based software system that will provide public access to satellite data on Earth’s water quantity and quality.

Gleason and co-principal investigator Subhransu Maji, associate professor in the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences, will create an analytic collaborative framework that will provide hydrologists and others with access to data, including information about the flow and sediment load in every river on Earth wider than 50 meters, gathered by the Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite and two other satellites, NASA’s Landsat and the European Space Agency’s Sentinel 2.


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