Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Two grants equaling $80,000 have been received by the Missoula County Justice Department and Missoula County Justice Court.

KGVO News spoke to Community Justice Department Director Shantelle Gaynor on Thursday about the grants and what they will accomplish.

Federal Dollars are from the Violence Against Women Act

“The origins of the money are federal dollars,” began Gaynor. “It's the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and those funds are primarily focused on improving community-based services for folks who've experienced sexual or domestic violence, stalking, or related sorts of crimes that might also include things like human trafficking.”

One grant supports a program called ‘Just Response’.

One Program is entitled 'Just Response'

“The first grant supports our coordinated community response, which is called ‘Just Response’,” she said. “The focus of just response is to bring law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, victim advocates, all folks who are in the justice system and other ways sometimes that might include 911. And how do we understand how these issues are different than say other crimes? Because burglary, where someone breaks into your house, that's terrible, but domestic violence? That violence lives in your home.”

Gaynor said the topic of strangulation is receiving a greater amount of response by both law enforcement and by city and county government support.

“There is a common tactic in domestic violence; strangulation, and so in the course of an altercation, somebody uses force putting their hands on the throat or like a chokehold,” she said. “In those sorts of situations, they're gaining immediate control over another person, but it can also have long term health impacts. It can cause blood clots, and ultimately, it can cause stroke and death. In addition, strangulation is super hard to investigate.”

As the Problem Grows so Must Additional Response Funding

Gaynor said even though these programs have been in existence for some time, additional funds and support are necessary.

“It's been roughly 15 years that Just Response has been this coalesced group and but even before that there was always groups of people working together,” she said. “But this helps us bring new workers into the fold helping to ensure that if you're new to law enforcement or a new prosecutor, you're getting the same training that your predecessors had.”

In addition, Missoula County Justice Court received a grant of $47,600 to fund a coordinator to expand the Missoula County Domestic Violence Court, founded by Justice of the Peace Alex Beal.

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