Crime Scene Cleanup & Recovery Guide for Tampa

The reality of crime scene cleanup is rarely something with which people are familiar with. When they are faced with the cleanup of what remains at the scene after law enforcement has completed their job, the disruption and emotional upheaval often comes as a surprise. If your home or business becomes the scene of a crime, it’s important to understand what, exactly, forensic cleaning and death cleanup mean and what you can expect.

The following guide is designed to help answer some of the most common questions people have about the topic, provide local resources, as well as how to pick the best Tampa crime scene cleanup company.

Tampa Crime Scene Recovery Resources

3818 W Tampa Bay Blvd, Tampa, FL 33614
(813) 231-6130
https://www.tampagov.net/police

411 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 276-3200
https://www.tampagov.net/police

9330 N 30th St, Tampa, FL 33612
(813) 931-6500
https://www.tampagov.net/police

Blount and Curry Funeral Home Oldsmar West Hillsborough Chapel
6802 Silvermill Dr, Tampa, FL 33635
(813) 814-4444
dignitymemorial.com

Gonzalez Funeral Home
7209 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33614
(813) 931-1833
dignitymemorial.com

Wilson Funeral Home
3000 N 29th St, Tampa, FL 33605
(813) 248-6125
wilson-funeralhome.com

Ray Williams Funeral Home
301 N Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 253-3419
http://www.raywilliamsfuneralhome.com/

Crisis Center of Tampa Bay
1106 Nikki View Dr, Brandon, FL 33511
(813) 264-9955
crisiscenter.com

Rogers Behavioral Health
2002 N Lois Ave #400, Tampa, FL 33607
(813) 498-6400
rogersbh.org

BayCare Behavioral Health – Life Management Center
2727 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd #640, Tampa, FL 33607
(813) 872-7582
https://www.baycare.org/locations/b/baycare-behavioral-health-life-management-center-tampa

How are crime scenes handled?

Forensic experts and police investigators will handle the crime scene processing itself. In fact, you’ll likely find your home or business cordoned off while they go over every inch of the property to collect as much evidence as possible. They’re looking for physical evidence and samples that can help them in their investigation.

There are a few routine steps that law enforcement usually takes as they process a crime scene. This includes:

  1. Securing the scene of the crime.
  2. Locating the location of the crime and determining its perimeter.
  3. Conducting a walkthrough.
  4. Gathering samples and documenting the scene.
  5. Recording all evidence recovered from the scene of the crime.

Law enforcement and forensic investigators will be looking for a variety of evidence. This includes biological evidence like hair or blood, latent evidence like fingerprints, and shoe and tire tracks. They’ll also be searching for digital evidence like cellphones, drugs, weapon marks, and trace evidence like fibers, soil, and cigarettes. This doesn’t mean that investigators will be able to recover all of the above, of course. But they’ll be searching for many different things to help them as they move through their investigation.

Once the investigation has moved on, the time for crime scene cleanup has arrived. This includes anything left behind by law enforcement, including remaining bodily waste and possibly tear gas or fingerprint dust. Any biological and chemical substances that aren’t necessary for their investigation will, in all likelihood, be left behind for you to clean.

Who is responsible for cleaning the scene of a crime? Is crime scene cleanup important?

Law enforcement is not responsible for the cleanup, and they will not do anything to restore the crime scene to its former condition. That responsibility, unfortunately, falls squarely on the property owners. That’s a difficult concept to understand, especially when the crime scene was particularly violent. You’re probably still trying to process the details of the crime, especially if you lost a loved one in the process.

Despite the emotional upheaval you’re experiencing, it is vital that forensic cleaning is conducted as quickly as possible. The longer the biohazard matter stays in place, the more dangerous it becomes. The health hazards become even more marked if you live with young children, elderly adults, or individuals with immune system disorders. These individuals might be more vulnerable to health risks than others.

What is considered a biohazard?

There are many different types of biohazards. By definition, any biological substance that is dangerous to the environment or to people is considered a biohazard. This includes bodily fluids like blood and saliva, as well as human and animal waste.

If a death resulted from the crime in question, be it via homicide or suicide, it’s important to note that decomposition begins immediately. There are four stages of decomposition to keep in mind:

  1. Autolysis. This is the first stage of decomposition and includes rigor mortis, which usually sets in about six hours after the time of death.
  2. Bloating. During this phase, bacteria and gas are produced by enzymes that eat the body’s cells as they are deprived of oxygen.
  3. Active decay. During active decay, the body’s tissue liquifies.
  4. Skeletonization. As the name implies, the body begins to be reduced to a skeleton during this phase.

Airborne and bloodborne pathogens alike will begin to spread as soon as decomposition begins. They can contaminate clothing, flooring, furniture, and even subflooring. Once this has happened, the materials must be disposed of according to EPA and OSHA standards.

Crime Scene and Death Cleanup Defined

A space is only considered a “crime scene” when it is being investigated and evidence is being collected and processed. After the investigation moves on, a professional cleanup can be started. However, it cannot be emphasized enough that the company hired to do crime scene cleanup (aka forensic cleaning) must be experienced in those types of cleanups, have properly trained personnel, and know how to observe proper compliance (rules, regulations, and laws) for dealing with biological waste (feces, urine, blood, and tissues).

It is also imperative that the company hired has the proper knowledge, experience, and skill to return the premises to a safe condition for inhabitants. A compassionate and experienced Tampa crime scene cleanup team can help. They can take on the burden so that you can focus on recovering with your loved ones.

Crime Scene Cleanup and Homeowner’s Insurance

Now that you understand how crime scenes are processed and what forensic cleaning looks like, you might be wondering how much the cost to clean might be and how you can secure funding. Will your homeowner’s insurance cover your expenses?

It’s important to note that some insurance policies actually do cover cleanup costs. That means that one of your first calls should be to your insurance adjuster. You’ll want to ask them exactly what kind of crime scene cleanup services they offer. This might be a difficult call to make, but the adjuster should be able to professionally and compassionately walk you through exactly what is (or isn’t) covered in your policy.

As difficult as this might be, you have to be certain to explain exactly what happened to your adjuster. Homeowner’s insurance coverage can vary depending upon exactly what happened. One policy might cover the cleanup related to traumatic events in general, for example, while another might be more closely focused on homicides. And, unfortunately, some policies won’t cover anything at all.

Keep in mind that even if your policy covers cleanup, they likely won’t be able to find a company for you. You will be responsible for taking the coverage they provide and finding the best cleaning team to suit your needs. Some organizations, like the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards, are dedicated to helping locate and allocate funding for cleanup. You can always reach out to this resource as well as any state resources at hand, but this kind of compensation will likely come in the form of a refund or credit of some type after cleanup has already been completed.

Crime Scene Cleanup FAQ

Q. What can a crime scene company do for me?
A. It is important to understand that a good crime scene cleanup company will make your home livable again (or your business usable again). The cleanup crew might not be able to restore your home or business to its original condition. That means if paint was stained and had to be scraped off the walls, if carpeting was heavily soiled and had to be removed, if windows were broken, doors were kicked in, and cabinet or refrigerator doors pulled off, you’ll have to hire someone else to repair or replace things. You may have to make an additional claim, and deal with your insurance company again.

Q. How should I pick a cleaning company?
A. Crime scene cleanup is something that needs to happen quickly – but not so quickly that you can’t take a moment to weigh your options. Make sure that the cleaning company you pick is experienced specifically with crime scene cleanup. This includes forensic cleaning experience and unattended death cleanup. Your time is important, so you’ll want to choose a company that can work around your schedule—with the ability to restore your home or business day or night. You should also look for a company that offers its clients compassion and care. You’ve just been through a traumatic experience, and you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.

Q. What certifications or training should a crime scene cleanup team have?
A. Crime scene cleanup companies must be able to follow state and federal regulations. This is absolutely vital. Biohazards can become serious health threats to anyone who comes into contact with them, and as we’ve discussed, crime scenes are often full of biohazards. The certifications to keep in mind when finding the right crime scene cleanup crew, then, include the following:

  • API Worksafe Certification
  • IICRC Odor Control Certification
  • AMDECON Crime Scene Cleanup Decontamination Certification
  • Meth Lab Decontamination License #CML 0805-05 State Certification
  • Code of Safe Practices Certification by OSHA

Q. Will my privacy be protected?
A. Crimes that are committed on your property, whether in your home or your office, tend to be personal. Understandably, you’d probably like to keep those details to yourself. Experienced and compassionate death cleanup teams will understand this and treat you with respect. Your privacy should be of the utmost importance, and you deserve skilled technicians who do their jobs professionally and carefully. That means that your privacy is an important consideration and will be maintained by workers.

Q. Do crime scene cleanup crews receive training?
A. Crime scene cleanup crews should receive extensive training. There are many aspects to forensic cleaning, and a good team will be thoroughly trained in all of them. That includes how to locate, contain, clean, and dispose of biohazardous materials. Opting for a team of hospital-grade cleaners is a good option that will help ensure that you receive comprehensive cleaning services. The company you pick must be able to identify and remove even the smallest hints of trace evidence as well as any materials that were left behind by investigators and first responders.

Customer service training is also important, particularly in death cleanup services. The cleanup crew you pick should have plenty of training in how to provide compassionate care to clients.

Q. Is odor removed during cleanup?
A. Yes, odors are removed during crime scene cleanup. It’s a vital part of the cleanup process, in fact. This is especially true if decomposition or death was part of the scene as bloodborne and airborne pathogens can be part of the odors left behind. Cleanup services should remove all scents and biohazards to return the property in question to its previous condition.

Q. Can your team help with my insurance claim?
A: Yes, our team can help you! We will be happy to work directly with your insurance company, as well as provide assistance in filing a claim.

The most satisfying part of being part of a crime scene cleanup crew is the ability to provide comfort and closure to the living. As part of a professional crime scene cleanup crew, we are there to get the job done promptly and discreetly, and to exercise sound and professional judgment in everything you do. Our client testimonials are a testament to our dedication to being the compassionate cleanup company. Our mission is to remove the hardship and burden of crime scene cleanup – and everything it represents – from your life so that you can return to some semblance of normalcy.

What Are the Health Risks of Cleaning up a Death Scene?

The death of a loved one is never an easy process. Even under the best of circumstances, the concerns and emotions that death causes can be difficult to work through. It is extremely important to understand that cleaning up the remains after a loved one’s passing can be a complicated and risky affair. In instances of unattended death such as situations where someone passed away alone or has been the victim of a violent crime, only those skilled in dealing with biohazards are qualified to take on the death cleanup process.

Why is biohazard cleanup necessary?

Unfortunately, what remains at the scene of a death is not often neat. This is the case even when someone has simply quietly stopped breathing in their own bed. Nature quickly takes over. Once the finely-tuned mechanisms of a living body stop working, the next step in the natural order occurs. Waste products are released, and soon after, decomposition begins, releasing fluids from chemical changes in tissues. In situations where death has occurred violently and there are injuries, it is likely that there is blood to be cleaned up. All of these substances, and others, must be dealt with properly.

Death Cleanup Basics

Death cleanup is an extremely challenging and exacting task, and ordinary cleanup routines and personnel are not enough. Precautions must be taken due to the possibility of disease transmission to the cleanup staff and others that come into contact with the contaminated area. Simple precaution alone is not enough. More severe diseases like hepatitis or tuberculosis can come from handling the deceased. That is especially true with HIV, the hepatitis virus, and other blood-borne illnesses. The virus may remain infectious outside the body for up to two weeks. These are only a few of the risks that come from handling the remains of an unattended death.

Biohazard Cleanup Considerations

Cleansing the area where someone has died should be viewed as biohazard cleanup. Specialized equipment, including respirators and hazmat suits, are required. Proper, commercial-grade cleansers are necessary to kill potentially infectious microorganisms and to ensure that there are no latent wastes that cause lingering odors or stains. A thorough biohazard cleanup requires compliance with regulations for biohazard material handling, storage, and disposal.

Other considerations for a proper cleanup are important. If the cleanup is for a crime scene, the cleanup personnel must have experience working with law enforcement. That includes preventing cross-contamination, where clean areas are separated from materials in the contaminated areas. It is also very important that the privacy of the survivors is respected. Cleanup should be done efficiently, promptly, and unobtrusively.

Attempting to handle death cleanup yourself is not only dangerous to your own health, but it could be dangerous to others, too, if the area is not properly sanitized. No one should have to deal with the cleanup after the death of a loved one alone. Professionals who are properly trained and experienced should be called in to help.