Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula County Attorney’s Office filed 10 new criminal complaints this week, which is 12 less than last week and significantly lower than the weekly average. According to Chief Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings, there were six violent crimes and four drug crimes. 

“Almost all of our violent crimes generally involve some sort of substance use or mental instability,” Jennings said. “The reason we charge our drug crimes is that we know that those can be precursors or sort of underlying conditions that lead to other criminal behavior. Still, most of our violent crimes end up being domestic violence, and sadly, people are more likely to hurt somebody they know, or they love than some stranger on the street. We take those really seriously because we do believe that if our criminal justice system is working appropriately, we can prevent those future crimes from happening again in the future.” 

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Jennings also mentioned that they see a spike in domestic violence cases during the winter. 

“People get a little pent up,” Jennings said. “They are not getting out and they're not finding healthy or appropriate ways to express some of those problems in their relationships. Those underlying issues, like substance abuse, can really trigger something. We have a variety of programs in Missoula County when people are convicted of domestic violence to try and get them on the right track. If families can be reconciled and they can be safe together in the future, that obviously is a goal because an intact family is one of society's kind of building blocks. But if they can't, then we've got other programs in place too, to make sure that everybody is safe.” 

On February 8, 2024, County Attorney Kirsten Pabst announced that she plans to retire at the end of March. Jennings said Pabst leaving is a big loss for our community. 

“Kirsten has had about 30 years of public service to folks in this county and criminal justice,” Jennings said. “She's been a really revolutionary leader. Not only was she the first woman County Attorney in Missoula, but really one of the first in the state of Montana. She's been a really great mentor to me and a lot of the young attorneys in our office, particularly other women. In her ten years here, she's really revolutionized some of our processes. She created an SVU unit and really doubled down on our focus on victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Our office has almost doubled in size since she's been in office and we've really tried to modernize and update some of our practices. It's going to be a big loss for us, but I wish her the best in the future.” 

The Missoula County Attorney’s Office provides a weekly crime report every Friday morning at 9:00 on Talk Back. You can listen to Jennings’ full report below:   

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Gallery Credit: KC