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AMHERST — After losing its prior leader late last year, Amherst’s Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service has found a new director.

Camille Theriaque, a licensed clinical social worker, was named CRESS’s new director in an announcement from the town on March 12.

“Ms. Theriaque brings a unique combination of public safety and social work experience to the position of CRESS Director,” read the town announcement. “This skill set will support the CRESS Department in its work as a public safety agency that includes addressing social service needs as a core component of its work.”

Theriaque is a former firefighter in the Holyoke Fire Department, which is where she eventually became the first female lieutenant in the history of Holyoke.

When she finished her work as a firefighter, Theriaque obtained a master’s degree in clinical social work at Smith College and eventually became qualified as a licensed clinical social worker.

She also has a bachelor’s degree in arts and psychology from Mount Holyoke College.

“Ms. Theriaque’s experience as a ground-breaking leader in the Holyoke Fire Department combined with her professional training and licensure as a clinical social worker brings a level of expertise that will lead the CRESS Department as it continues to develop as a key option for our public safety response,” said Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman in a statement.

The naming of a new director comes several months after the town lost its original director, Earl Miller, back in the fall.

At the time, Reminder Publishing reported that Miller was placed on leave in August while an internal investigation was launched into “the operation of the CRESS program.” Miller then resigned a couple months later while on administrative leave.

CRESS began back in 2022 as an unarmed alternative to police response for various nonviolent calls as well as mental health support and community engagement.

According to the town announcement, the Search Committee was chaired by Human Resources Director Melissa Loiodice-Walker and included Allegra Clark, co-chair of the Community Safety and Social Justice Committee; Rani Parker, co-chair of the Human Rights Commission; Tim McCarthy, executive director of Craigs Doors Shelter; Dwayne Chamble, Out-of-School Times Program coordinator at the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District; Hayley Bolton, director of Senior Services; Tim Nelson, fire chief; and Jennifer Moyston, assistant director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Community member and special assistant to the vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Sidonio Ferreira and Public Health Director Kiko Malin were also involved in the interview process.

Theriaque was one of four interviewed for the position. She is projected to start April 8.

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