AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The town of Amherst welcomed in a new public safety department called the Community Responders for Equity, Safety, and Service, or CRESS.

Eight responders were sworn into the new department, which is a partnership with the Amherst Police Department. Members will respond to non-violent incidents, involving matters such as homelessness and social issues.

“We have a great police department here and a great fire department, but everyone recognizes that there are some calls that don’t fall into what they do, so we’re here to cover the rest,” said Earl Miller, Director of CRESS.

Police department data shows that 20 to 35-percent of 911 calls could be appropriately handled by trained, unarmed community responders such as those in CRESS.