BY MELANIE BUCK –
Mena has an official superhero in town and has the cape to prove it! Elena Cannon, Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Investigator for the 18th West Judicial Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, was awarded the 2015 Cooper Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center Superhero Award at a Child Abuse Awareness Rally held on the steps of the Polk County Courthouse on Friday, April 15, 2016. The award is given to people who have worked hard on behalf of children in the previous year. Cannon was involved in investigating 38 ‘true findings’ of child abuse in Polk County during 2015.
Cannon was taken by surprise as Janice Beaver, director of the Child Advocacy Center (CAC), announced her as the recipient of the award. Cannon said, “I didn’t do any of this alone; we all did this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Along with a glass plaque, Cannon was also given a Superman Cape, making her an official superhero.
Cannon also serves as the MDT Coordinator for the county. MDT’s are ‘multiple disciplinary teams’ that are comprised of all the various agencies working together to better investigate and prosecute offenders and treat victims of abuse.
Beavers said of the multiple agencies working in the county on behalf of abused children, “I have to say about this community, you all in law enforcement, the City law enforcement, the Sheriff’s Office, Prosecutor’s Office, Arkansas State Police, Department of Human Services, and MDT people, you guys are the helpers, the hope, and are changing the lives of children,” said Beavers. “We appreciate all the work you do day in and day out for children.”
CAC has launched a new satellite center in Mena and will include Beavers, as well as therapist, Karen Wright, and sexual assault nurse examiner, Marcie Hermann. The Center will be better able to assist local agencies in cases of child abuse having an office within the county.
Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner and Mena Police Chief Brandon Martin also spoke at the rally. Following the ceremony, 38 blue pinwheels were placed in a designated area on the courthouse lawn to signify the 38 cases of abuse solved in 2015.
Riner said of Cannon’s award, “You couldn’t have picked a better nominee. Elena is one in a million. She never quits. Because of her intelligence, discipline, and work ethic, we have a strong conviction rate in cases she investigated. No one is more deserving of an award.”