Crime Scene Cleanup & Recovery Guide in Atlanta

Few people who face crime scene recovery in their Atlanta home or business are prepared for the emotional stress and disruption it involves. When your family’s home or your company’s property has become the scene of a crime, it’s helpful to better understand what happens in a crime scene cleanup. The following crime scene recovery guide offers insights into crime scene processing, answers to the most frequently asked questions, tips on how to choose an Atlanta crime scene cleanup company, and more.

Atlanta Crime Scene Recovery Resources

West Atlanta
Atlanta Police Department Zone 1
2315 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 799-2487
http://www.atlantapd.org/community/apd-zones/zone-1

North Atlanta
Atlanta Police Department Zone 2
3120 Maple Dr NE #300, Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 848-7231
http://www.atlantapd.org/community/apd-zones/zone-2

East Atlanta
Atlanta Police Department Zone 6
2025 Hosea L Williams Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30317
(404) 371-5002
http://www.atlantapd.org/community/apd-zones/zone-6

South Atlanta
Atlanta Police Department
215 Lakewood Way SW, Atlanta, GA 30315
(404) 230-9167
http://www.atlantapd.org/

Central Atlanta
Atlanta Police Department Zone 5
200 Ted Turner Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 658-7830
http://www.atlantapd.org/community/apd-zones/zone-5

West Atlanta
Alfonso Dawson Mortuary
3000 M.L.K. Jr Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30311
(404) 691-3810
alfonsodawsonmortuary.com

Central/Mid Atlanta
Willie A Watkins Funeral Home
1003 Ralph David Abernathy SW, Atlanta, GA 30310
(404) 758-1731
williewatkins.com

South Atlanta
Gus Thornhill’s Funeral Home
1315 Gus Thornhill Jr Dr, East Point, GA 30344
(404) 768-2993
gusthornhillsfuneralhome.com

East Atlanta
Stocks Funeral Home
1970 Hosea L Williams Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30317
(404) 377-0458
stocksfuneralhome.com

Counseling Crisis & Caring, LLC
2727 Paces Ferry Rd SE, Atlanta, GA 30339
(770) 310-3257
cccboddyllc.org

Sage Counseling Center
2849-B Henderson Mill Rd, Atlanta, GA 30341
(404) 419-6221
sagecenteratlanta.com

The Link Counseling Center
348 Mount Vernon Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 256-9797
https://www.thelink.org/

How Crime Scenes Are Processed

ForensicScienceSimplified.org does a great job of providing straightforward explanations of what happens during crime scene processing. One of the most important tasks is to collect physical evidence that could be used in the resulting investigation. Quoting from the site, this evidence can include:

  • biological evidence (e.g., blood, body fluids, hair and other tissues)
  • latent print evidence (e.g., fingerprints, palm prints, footprints)
  • footwear and tire track evidence
  • trace evidence (e.g., fibers, soil, vegetation, glass fragments)
  • digital evidence (e.g., cell phone records, Internet logs, email messages)
  • tool and tool mark evidence
  • drug evidence
  • firearm evidence

Not every crime will involve each of these steps (not all crimes, for example, involve drugs or firearms), but biological evidence is frequently a core part of crime investigation. Detectives collect samples of materials, take photographs, and locate and take fingerprints. Investigators must protect themselves against on-scene dangers, including biohazards, chemical hazards, weapons, and sometimes even intentionally set traps.

Investigators must follow best practice procedures when collecting evidence, including packaging and preserving it, especially biological evidence. This type of evidence can be particularly fragile, in part because it can be accidentally contaminated or easily overlooked.

Throughout this process, the area may be surrounded by yellow crime scene tape. And, whether or not tape is used, bystanders (including homeowners or business owners) will not be allowed in secured areas of the property. When investigators leave, they may leave behind any biological or chemical evidence not needed for samples, along with any fingerprint dust, tear gas canisters, and other substances or items used while apprehending suspects or investigating the scene.

Who Cleans Up Crime Scenes? Why is This Important?

This responsibility falls on the owner of the property, whether a home or business, right when owners may be suffering from mental and emotional stress over the crime and its impact. And, it’s crucial to have the scene thoroughly cleaned and disinfected as soon as possible because of biohazards.

Biohazard definition: A biohazard is a biological substance that’s dangerous to people or the environment. Many biohazards are made of bacteria or other microorganisms.

Bodily fluids, including blood, plus body waste and tissues can carry a broad scope of biohazardous material that can be especially threatening to children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems. Many of these biohazards aren’t necessarily visible by the naked eye, so even with the best of intentions, people can leave behind dangerous materials in their homes or workplaces.

If a death was part of the crime scene, whether through suicide or homicide, the body starts to decompose immediately. As that happens, bloodborne and airborne pathogens (bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms that can cause disease) can seep into flooring, subflooring, walls, furniture, drapes, and more. Once contaminated, these materials must be removed and disposed of according to OSHA and EPA standards.

Definitions of Crime Scenes and Cleanups

A crime scene, in general, simply means an area where a crime was committed. This term is typically used when the area where the crime was committed is being investigated. Crime scene cleanups address what’s left after the site investigation is completed, ranging from blood, bodily fluids and tissues, and more. A crime scene cleanup may or may not involve a death; for example, it might involve a burglary instead.

You may hear the term “trauma cleanup.” This may or may not involve a death; it could involve cleanup after a suicide or an attempted suicide.

The term “death scene cleanup” indicates one where biological materials need to be removed. It may involve a homicide, or an unattended death where a body is not found for days or perhaps even weeks. The unattended death may be natural or the result of a crime.

Homeowners’ Insurance and Crime Scene Cleanup

Homeowners’ policies sometimes cover your cleanup costs, so you should contact your insurance adjuster (not the agent who sold you the policy, but the adjuster) to ask about crime cleaning service benefits. This call can be emotionally difficult, but it’s your adjuster’s job to delve into what is and isn’t covered in your homeowners’ policy.

Be sure to precisely communicate what happened because coverage can vary based upon the specifics. One policy might cover cleanup costs after a homicide, while another might also cover other traumatic events that didn’t lead to death. Another might not cover what happened to you at all.

If you do have relevant coverage, your insurance company can’t tell you which cleaning company to use. Its job is to provide you with the coverage you’re entitled to, and then you choose the best company for your needs.

There are organizations, such as the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards, that may provide funding for cleanup of a crime scene. You can explore what’s available through these state programs. In certain circumstances, the courts may ultimately decide to award you with cleanup funds, but you wouldn’t receive those quickly.

Crime Scene Cleanup FAQs

Q: How can I choose the right crime scene cleaning company?
A: When you need crime scene cleanup, you need it quickly—but you also need to make the right choice for your needs. Ensure the company you choose has professional experience in crime scene cleanup, including unattended death experience, if applicable. If you need this service for your home, choose a company that treats families with compassion. If you need it for your business, select a company that helps you reduce business interruption in the most efficient yet caring way. This company should have technicians who are EPA- and OSHA-certified, and who understand the regulations in your state and locale. Get references; you can find ours on our client testimonial page.

Q: What kind of certifications are important for the crime scene cleanup company?
A: Companies that perform crime scene cleanup services must follow federal and state regulations. This is crucial because biohazards can pose serious health threats, with bodily fluids and tissues carrying the risk of multiple infectious diseases, including HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, MRSA, and more.

At Advanced Bio-Treatment, we strictly follow OSHA and EPA guidelines as we handle, collect, and dispose of biohazards. Our certifications include the following:

  • API Worksafe certified
  • Crime Scene Cleanup Decontamination certification from AMDECON
  • State Certification for Meth Lab Decontamination License #CML 0805-05
  • Odor control certified by IICRC
  • Code of Safe Practices – OSHA specialist tested

Q: How will my privacy be protected?
A: When a crime is committed on your premises, whether at home or at work, it usually involves a highly personal matter, one with details that you’d prefer to keep private. At Advanced Bio-Treatment, we promise that we’ll respect your privacy while treating you with compassion. We’ll also be respectful of your time, responding promptly, and treat your property and belongings with care. Our skilled technicians understand how difficult a crime scene cleanup can be for you and do everything possible to work with care and compassion.

Q: What training do crime scene cleanup technicians receive?
A: At our company, they receive extensive training in every area of crime scene cleaning, including death scene cleanup techniques. This includes how to safely clean biohazardous materials and dispose of them appropriately. They are trained to recognize areas in the scene and surrounding areas where biohazards may not be readily seen or spotted by the naked eye.

At Advanced Bio-Treatment, our technicians are trained in using hospital-grade cleaners and how to discern which ones would be effective at a particular scene. They are knowledgeable in operating special equipment that’s necessary to remove all traces of blood, and other bodily fluids and tissues. They are trained in how to appropriately clean up materials left behind by first responders and investigators, which can include fingerprint powder dust, tear gas, pepper spray, and more; each of these materials can add to health risks.

Our team also provides outstanding customer service, able to clearly explain the process and why each step is necessary. They will also gladly answer your questions. We select our technicians in a way that helps to ensure personal commitment to service and to treating people enduring trauma in a compassionate way.

Q: What about odor removal during cleanup?
A: This is a key component of the crime scene cleanup. In the case of death and decomposition odors, this can include biohazardous fluids and tissues, plus airborne and bloodborne pathogens. With crime scene cleanup, odor removal is clearly important, as the scene is cleaned, disinfected, and deodorized, thereby returned to its previous condition.

Q: Can you help me with insurance claims?
A: Yes! We ask that you have relevant insurance policies available so we can assist you in determining what insurance coverage you may have for your crime scene cleanup needs. We will help you file your claim as well.

How Do You Remove Death or Decomposition Odor?

Decomposition odors can be overwhelming. Organic material begins to decompose right after death, so what you can do depends upon when you can get into the space. If the area is part of an active crime scene, you can’t do anything right away, but if the cause of the odor is an animal that had hidden in a space of your home and died there, you can begin cleaning just as soon as the remains are removed.

Once you’re able to get into the space where there are odors due to death or decomposition, ventilate! Open windows and doors to provide as much fresh air flow as possible, turn on nearby ceiling fans, and also use portable fans.

At this point, consider whether you should hire a death scene cleanup company that will have the skills and experience and the appropriate gear to protect themselves from biohazardous materials left behind, safely cleaning up blood and other bodily fluids. Plus, a qualified death scene cleanup company will have specialized, commercial- and hospital-grade products specifically designed to thoroughly clean up, sanitize, disinfect, and deodorize after a death occurs.

If you’re going to do the cleaning yourself, cover yourself with protective garments and equipment, including a face mask, goggles, and gloves, as well as a smock. Then, remove whatever cannot be restored to a safe condition. This could include furniture, carpeting, sub-flooring, and drywall. Until you remove items that are part of the problem, you can’t really begin to effectively restore the space.

Choose your cleaning products carefully, using a product that’s registered as a disinfectant. Use caution, however, because some chemicals that are created through decomposition can cause dangerous interactions with ammonia, for example, or chlorine.

Then, begin cleaning the area from the outer limits of the malodorous area to the center. Once done, you might choose to use a white vinegar/water mixture as an additional cleaning step. Wet the area and let it air dry before patting it with a lint-free cloth. See how well this works, but keep in mind that the reality is that store-bought products are not always effective enough to eliminate death or decomposition odors.

Also set out a bowl of vinegar by the cleaned area to see if it will absorb more of the smells, keeping it out of the reach of children or pets. You can also place boxes of opened baking soda around the area.

Here’s the Reality

To be blunt, death and decomposition smells can be pretty horrific. This is nature’s way of letting us know that something potentially dangerous is lurking—in this case, biohazardous fluids, and tissues, as well as potential germs and viruses.

So, what you really need to do goes beyond simply trying to remove death or decomposition odors. You must clean, disinfect, and deodorize the area, returning it to its previous condition.

Professional Death Scene Cleanup Companies

We invite you to contact the professional Advanced Bio-Treatment team for your death scene cleanup services. You can talk to a live operator, 24/7, by calling 888-260-4067 today. We promise a prompt and compassionate response.