A new protocol in San Diego County will ensure that police, and other trauma care providers, are better trained to detect, document and respond to cases of strangulation, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It will help officers identify and document what has happened, how it has happened and what evidence they need to collect… to save lives and hold offenders accountable,” said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. Experts say strangulation is a particularly dangerous form of domestic violence. Victims can fall unconscious in seconds and be dead in minutes.
In San Diego County, 15 percent of domestic-violence homicides between 2008 and 2015 were strangulation cases. One of the five domestic-violence homicides in the city of San Diego last year was a strangulation case. If victims survive, they can be left with serious, long-term injuries like memory loss, traumatic brain injury and stroke. “We need to identify these people and do something about it if we’re going to prevent that homicide,” said San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior. While it can be highly lethal, strangulation often leaves behind few physical marks. To help police better detect and document cases, officers will be required to ask victims of domestic violence if they were strangled. If so, an additional two-page questionnaire will help to detail what happened.