Kaua‘i police held a special ceremony on Monday in celebration of Forensic Nurses Week, which occurs Nov. 9-13, 2020. The Kaua‘i Police Department’s five forensic nurses–Jennifer Antony, Stephanie Huhn, Marlo Alaipalelei, Charlene Ono and Ceisha Judd–were honored with certificates and their work was paid tribute to by a number of people, including Chief of Police Todd G. Raybuck, Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami and Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro.
“Kaua‘i is unique because there are so many dedicated individuals from nurses, law enforcement officers and prosecutors, to professionals from the Children’s Justice Center, Child Welfare Services and the YWCA, who help victims of sexual assault,” said Antony during the ceremony. “I’m so thankful that we have a team like this at KPD—many communities don’t. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without one another and I feel gratitude towards being able to be a part of such an extraordinary team.”
Forensic Nurses Week is designated to recognize the dedicated nurses who provide exceptional care to patients impacted by violence, abuse and trauma. Forensic nurses work to increase victim-centered care and mitigate violence through public health strategies with both offender and victim. Forensic nurses are highly educated professionals that continue to meet the increasingly complex forensic and healthcare needs of individuals, families, communities, populations and systems worldwide. Although many forensic nurses work in the emergency department of acute care hospitals, others practice at child and family advocacy centers, correctional or psychiatric facilities, coroner and medical examiner offices, or international humanitarian organizations. Forensic nurses also provide consultation and testimony for civil and criminal proceedings.
The nurses at KPD are also part of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, which provides a number of ways for a victim of sexual assault to feel safer by allowing them to be treated in a private exam room at the Līhuʽe headquarters. This gives the patient not only the ability to be directly in touch with the detectives and nurses who work as a specially trained team for these incidents, it provides victims with the kind of privacy and confidentiality that they might not otherwise receive in a hospital setting.
Also honored during Monday’s ceremony were students of Waimea and Kamehameha high schools. The group of students, led by former KPD forensic nurse, Ranelle Ka‘awa, donated Beloved Bundles care bags, made possible by the nonprofit, Project Beloved, that are provided to victims of sexual assault and filled with items like toothbrushes, clothes and journals.
After receiving an examination by a SANE nurse at KPD, oftentimes a victim’s belongings are used for evidence. The Beloved Bundles provide survivors with necessities, as well as the kind of comfort that is needed following a traumatic event.
“The answer to stopping sexual assault and abuse is not telling girls or women what to wear or how to behave, for example, it’s about stopping the problem at its source. What these students did for their community by helping victims of sexual assault heal is, in turn, facilitating their personal growth and helping them mature and understand what it means to respect other people,” said Antony.
To learn more about the kind of services that KPD’s forensic nurses provide, visit http://www.kauai.gov/police.