University Police Department Lt. Amanda Cullin sat behind her desk with a black mask and a black T-shirt with the letters “NW” encompassed by a green heart. Her shirt showed her love for the Northwest community and her passion to aid survivors of sexual assault. Cullin’s passion is also shown through the $300,000 grant UPD has recently received to help these survivors over the next three years.
The grant provides financial support training for UPD in sexual assault cases, but its main focus is to bring Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, or SANE nurses, back into the Maryville community. Cullin said the OVW grant was approved by the Department of Justice’s Office for Violence Against Women. UPD will funnel $41,000 the first year and then $45,000 per year during the last two years of the grant to Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville to supplement equipment and training for SANE nurses.
Cullin teamed up with Mosaic and many other programs across the community and campus to formulate the Office for Violence Against Women Fiscal Year 2020 Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking on Campus Program grant.
“We had a change, recently, from St. Francis Hospital to Mosaic Hospital, and during that change over, we lost our SANE nurse,” Cullin said.
Cullin said although there hasn’t been a SANE nurse in the Maryville community for a while, UPD and other police departments have had access to SANE nurses in St. Joseph, Missouri. Survivors of sexual assault would have to be driven at least 40 minutes, usually by police, to have the examination done.
Cullin’s vest and badge were draped over the back of her chair. Her desk was mostly cleaned off, but the rest of her office was cluttered and messy, much like her job as a police officer.
Cullin noted this position is difficult to fill because, in order for someone to keep the position, they must do so many exams a year, not to mention the emotional toll it can take on the SANE nurse. Her blue-rimmed glasses were placed over her mask as if to hold it in place while she described the situation many SANE nurses are tasked with.
After Mosaic receives their cut of the grant, this would leave UPD with $169,000 to use throughout the three-year period. Cullin said part of this grant will also pay for half of the salary of a new project director to facilitate the uses of the OVW grant money.
Cullin also said UPD may have to travel for meetings involving the OVW grant and that some of the money they received would have to be put aside for these times.
She noted that the meetings could end up online this year due to the pandemic, which would allow UPD to keep those funds to put towards more training and programs to better prepare them for handling sexual assault cases and working with survivors.
Cullin sat through countless other meetings with Mosaic, Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney Caleb Phillips and Grants Coordinator Tye Parsons to create the OVW Grant.
Green Dot, Maryville Public Safety, the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department, Title IX, Residential Life, North Star Advocacy Center, the Wellness Center and various other departments are working with UPD and Mosaic to provide training and support to those who aid survivors of sexual assault.
These departments also make up the community response team or the Sexual Assault Response Team, better known as SART.
“It’s been a great resource for us to align our resources together and try to align our training as well, and this grant will provide that,” Cullin said. “It’s going to provide opportunities for training for law enforcement as well as conduct.”
Cullin also said UPD will invite all of their partners in the community and on campus to participate in the training.
Emergency Department Director Paula Goodridge explained that becoming a SANE nurse is a tedious task that requires a lot of training and great attention to detail.
SANE nurses are registered nurses who undergo training to administer sexual assault examinations on top of their regular duties as a nurse.
Goodridge said it is difficult to keep nurses in the position as a SANE nurse because of the additional training and emotional toll that comes with the job.
“Keeping them interested and keeping them doing it,” Goodridge said, her mask nudging her glasses while she spoke.
Goodridge said the training to maintain a SANE nurse position is done often since these nurses have to complete a certain amount of examinations every year to keep the position.
She also explained that training to be able to perform a SANE examination is difficult in that Mosaic is asking anyone who goes through the training to observe at least 10 sexual assault kit examinations as an orientation period before being able to do it on their own.
“There’s been nurses that have been trained and they just don’t keep with it because of all the additional education and stuff that go along with it, and this is on top of their regular duties,” Goodridge said.
Cullin said this has been a hard goal for potential SANE nurses to obtain this year in Nodaway county because there has been a decrease in reported sexual assault cases.
“There are three of us doing it, and only one of us has seen two cases,” Goodridge said. Her yellow cardigan and patterned shirt reflected the good news she was discussing that was becoming a problem for the three trainees, including Goodridge, trying to finish their training. Goodridge said the two cases that had been seen were the only cases observed since May.
She noted that herself and two other nurses have been on call for sexual assault cases in St. Joseph, Missouri, so they can get in their observation hours, which they have been working on since May.
Cullin had explained that these SANE nurses are vital to sexual assaults because of investigation and prosecution if the survivor chooses to press charges. She said sexual assault cases are harder cases to prosecute, but with a sexual assault kit being used, it makes it easier for people like Phillips to prosecute these cases since these kits provide a lot of necessary evidence.
The OVW grant will make this process easier and faster since the examinations will soon be able to be done in Maryville rather than outside of the community.
“We really needed this resource in our community,” Cullin said.
She explained that federal grants are rather competitive while she leaned forward over her copy of the grant that she had displayed in front of her on the desk. She said as a small rural community, it was incredible that UPD received this grant.