Several Missoula law enforcement and medical officials gathered in the Missoula County Courthouse to sign the new Missoula County Strangulation Protocol.

KGVO News spoke with Missoula Police Department detective Nathan Griesse who kicked off the event in which several officials praised the new protocol.

“What was signed was the Missoula County Strangulation Protocol,” said Detective Griesse. “Why is it important? There are a number of different reasons, such as lethality for survivors of domestic violence as well as lethality for officers responding to these scenes. Strangulation is seen as the ‘last warning shot to murder’ and oftentimes is the last act leading up to that domestic violence related homicide.”

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Griesse explained the background on what the Missoula team learned about strangulation during special training in San Diego.

“Two years ago, we sent an awesome team to San Diego to the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention,” he said. “Once we learned what we could do to do more, we had to act on that. Once we know more, we have to do more. Prior to that, we only did what we knew how to do at that time. We didn't understand why a survivor acted the way they did. We didn't understand fully what signs and symptoms to look for, for these complex investigations, so this has been a culmination of great collaboration through our community, and this is really the pinnacle of how Missoula County will be going forward.”

Griesse emphasized the team approach to the strangulation protocol.

“This isn't a Nate Griesse protocol,” he said. “This really truly is a county wide protocol gathering everybody's expertise and input in the development of this. We based this off of a couple of agencies nationwide who really have best practices by experts across the nation and we developed it from there.”

Griesse explained how the strangulation protocol will be used by all law enforcement agencies going forward.

“Long term and follow up stages,” he said. “This last year we concluded a strangulation pilot program with First Step. We're doing strangulation specific evaluations, getting those individuals medical attention for a combination of First Step and our partner agencies. We saved one life where in internal injury was identified, and one life was enough to make this all worth it.”

Others who signed the protocol included County Attorney Kirsten Pabst and Missoula Police Chief Jaeson White.

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