Not many people know that the responsibility of cleaning up a crime scene falls on the shoulders of the owner of the home or place of business where the scene of the crime took place. Most assume that the police will clean up after themselves when they leave the crime scene. The fact is, when the police have finished their processing and give the owner of the home or business the okay to begin repairing the damage, they may only have advice to offer on where to start.
Our Baltimore crime scene recovery guide will walk you through the process. We’ll also answer the most frequently asked questions, as well as give you a quick tip on how to choose a Baltimore crime scene cleanup company that can take care of the cleanup for you.
Baltimore Crime Scene Recovery Resources
Baltimore Police Department – Central District
500 E Baltimore St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore Police Department – Southeast District
5710 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224
Baltimore Police Department – Northwest District
5271 Reisterstown Rd, Baltimore, MD 21215
Baltimore Police Department Southwest District
424 Font Hill Ave, Baltimore, MD 21223
Baltimore Police Department Northeast District
1900 Argonne Dr, Baltimore, MD 21218
Marzullo Funeral Chapel
6009 Harford Rd, Baltimore, MD 21214
Charles L Stevens Funeral Home
1501 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230
March Funeral Homes
4300 Wabash Ave, Baltimore, MD 21215
Hubbard Funeral Home Inc
4107 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD 21229
Changing Turn Community Health Care Services
5438 York Rd #103, Baltimore, MD 21212
ABA Health Services, Inc.
3939 Reisterstown Rd, Baltimore, MD 21215
Helping Hands Health Services, Inc,
2204 Maryland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21228
How Are Crime Scenes Processed?
Police investigators and forensic experts will literally go through every nook and cranny of your property. Their main goal is to gather samples and physical evidence for use in their investigation.
Typically, law enforcement will go through these steps in processing a crime scene:
- Secure the scene
- Locate ground zero and then move out to the perimeter
- Conduct a walkthrough
- Document the scene and gather samples
- Record all recovered evidence
What physical evidence are they looking for?
- Blood, hair, skin, body fluids and other biological evidence
- Fingerprints, footprints, palm prints, and other latent evidence
- Tire tracks and shoe tracks
- Cellphones, emails, and other digital evidence
- Fibers, cigarettes, glass, soil, leaves and shrubs, and other trace evidence
- Drugs and paraphernalia
- Weapon marks
Forensic teams may not be able to collect all the evidence on the list. For the most part, however, they will be fortunate to collect two or three latent pieces of evidence that will point to the perpetrator.
There’s a reason why police follow a strict chain of evidence. They must properly document how they collect evidence, how they bag it, who they give it to, and how the evidence is transported. This is to ensure that the evidence they present to the court is not contaminated.
Until they give the clearance, the crime scene may be secured with yellow police tape. Until that time, you or the Baltimore crime scene recovery company are not allowed to touch anything. The problem is that when everybody has left, you will be left to clean up the mess.
Police could leave behind other chemical and biological substances that are not needed for their ensuing investigation. You may be left to deal with cleaning up fingerprint dust and tear gas, for example.
Who Cleans Up After the Investigators? Why is Cleaning the Crime Scene Important?
Once the investigators, forensics teams, and medical personnel have left, who takes over to clean up the scene?
Unfortunately, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of the homeowner or the business owner. Understandably, this is going to be difficult. You are still processing the trauma of being a victim. If you also lost a loved one to a crime, you’ll also be dealing with grief and anger.
Even in the midst of this emotional trauma, it’s crucial that the crime scene is cleaned up right away because of the possible biohazards. This is even more important if anyone occupying your home is elderly, very young, or have a compromised immune system, because they may be particularly vulnerable to the health risks posed by these biohazards.
What is a biohazard?
As defined by the dictionary, a biohazard is a biological agent that poses a health risk to people and the environment. When we think of a biohazard, we always associate it with chemical waste but there’s much more to it.
Here are some examples of a biohazard:
- Animal and human waste — People who die of violent causes may discharge some human waste. Human and animal excreta is quite dangerous and it could lead to diseases such as hepatitis, polio, schistosomiasis, typhoid, and cholera, among others.
- Microbes — Viruses and pathogens that come from discarded laboratory equipment.
- Human blood — The blood can also be a source of a health risk when it contains bloodborne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis. Blood spills must be properly cleaned using a cleaning agent and disinfectant to make sure the inhabitants are safe.
- Body fluids — Saliva, semen, amniotic fluid, brain fluid, and other body fluids may also pose a danger.
The problem is that the pathogens present in these fluids are impossible to see with the naked eye. And because they are invisible, you may be unaware of the risks.
This is especially true with homicides, assaults and other violent crimes where these biological hazards needed to be removed. However, these hazards are not only present at a crime scene. A cleanup and recovery crew may also be called in cases where a person who died of natural causes has decomposed at the scene after an unattended death.
There are typically four stages of decomposition:
- The first part is called autolysis. This is when the body actually digests itself as the cells are deprived of oxygen. Rigor mortis follows where the body stiffens. This typically begins six hours after death.
- The second phase is bloating. The enzymes that eat the cells then produce gas and bacteria.
- The third stage is the active decay when body tissue liquefies.
- The last stage is skeletonization.
Crime Scene and Cleanup Defined
Just as the name suggests, a crime scene is where a violent incident or an illegal deed was committed. But the term itself is only used when the scene is being processed and investigated.
Meanwhile, a crime scene cleanup refers to the activities that follow the investigation. When the police investigators, the medical team, and forensics experts have finished processing and collecting the evidence, what’s left will be for you to clean up.
Again, it should be emphasized that the home or office may not necessarily be the scene of a crime. Even an unattended death will need thorough processing and cleaning. Perhaps even more so, especially if the body has not been found for a week or more.
Even a simple burglary and break-in will also need the services of a cleanup company. In the course of the police investigation, your entire property may be dusted for latent fingerprints.
Another instance when a cleanup and recovery company may be called is during a traumatic incident. This might not necessarily be a crime scene. For example, a loved one might have committed suicide inside the house.
This is an extremely traumatic experience, and cleaning up the scene can be emotionally and psychologically challenging. A compassionate, experienced Baltimore crime scene cleanup team can relieve you of this burden while you focus on taking care of yourself and your loved ones.
Are Cleanup Services Covered by Insurance?
It’s not always the case, but the cost of cleanup can sometimes be covered by your insurance policy. To be sure, you need to call the insurance adjuster to determine coverage. This is not an easy task by any means, but it’s necessary. Have your insurance adjuster explain your policy and what you can avail.
Make sure you give only truthful information because the answer you provide will determine your coverage. Unfortunately, when it comes to insurance, not all crime scenes are created equal.
If your case is covered by insurance, it is your responsibility to look for a cleanup service company. You can also inquire from the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards for any benefits you may be entitled to if you are a victim of a crime. The court may also order to reimburse your expenses but the money won’t be released immediately.
FAQs on Crime Scene Cleanup Services
Q: What should I look for in a crime scene cleanup company?
A: Just like any service-oriented company, you need a company with both experience and expertise. The company should be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Personnel should also be well-versed in the local legislation concerning crime scene recovery and cleanup. Visit our client testimonial page to get a better understanding of Advanced Bio-Treatment’s qualifications and the full range of services we provide.
Q: What certifications should I expect from the cleanup company?
A: Never hire a company without the required certifications from relevant federal and state agencies. This is to ensure that you get the equal value of what you pay for. An unaccredited company may take shortcuts in cleaning the crime scene, thereby putting you and your family at risk.
At the very least, the company should have the following certifications:
- Crime Scene Cleanup Decontamination (issued by the AMDECON)
- API Worksafe
- Odor control (issued by the IICRC)
- Code of Safe Practices (issued by the OSHA)
Aside from these, Advanced Bio-Treatment also has a Meth Lab Decontamination certification (License #CML 0805-05).
Q: What kind of training does the cleanup specialist have?
A: Our company doesn’t deploy our technicians to the field without having completed the requisite training on cleaning and processing the crime scene. The training includes how to properly dispose of the biohazards so they don’t pose a health risk not just to the inhabitants but also the workers themselves.
The Advanced Bio-Treatment technicians also have extensive knowledge of all types of hospital-grade cleaners and how to use them in certain situations to guarantee maximum effectiveness. They will clean the area of all chemical and biological agents, as well as fingerprint dust and other substances used by law enforcement, before declaring your property cleared for occupation.
Q: I’m worried about the odor—will it ever go away?
A: Our technicians have received training at the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). We understand the theory of controlling odor, the possible sources of odor, and the equipment and chemical agents needed to address the problem. We also extensively study the biological sources of odor like blood, decomposition, fluids, urine, and waste. Using this knowledge, our technicians will ensure that all odor-causing fluids, tissues, and pathogens are removed and that your home or business is returned to its previously safe, clean condition.
Q: Do you protect my privacy?
A: The circumstances that lead to your home or business becoming a crime scene are nearly always very personal, and we understand how important it is that the details of the incident remain private. From the live operator you reach when you first call us, to the team of technicians who come to your home or business, everyone at Advanced Bio-Treatment is committed to respecting every aspect of your privacy and providing our services with complete discretion.
Q: I’m not comfortable calling my insurance adjuster—can you help me with this?
A: Indeed. Just share your insurance information with us and we will handle this task for you. We can call up your insurance adjuster to determine your coverage. We can also help you with the claim filing process.