Crime Scene Cleanup & Recovery Guide in Baltimore

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
(410) 396-2525
https://www.baltimorepolice.org/districts/central-district

Baltimore Police Department – Southeast District
5710 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224
(410) 396-2422
https://www.baltimorepolice.org/districts/southeastern-district

Baltimore Police Department – Northwest District
5271 Reisterstown Rd, Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 396-2466
https://www.baltimorepolice.org/districts/northwestern-district

Baltimore Police Department Southwest District
424 Font Hill Ave, Baltimore, MD 21223
(410) 396-2488
https://www.baltimorepolice.org/districts/southwestern-district

Baltimore Police Department Northeast District
1900 Argonne Dr, Baltimore, MD 21218
(410) 396-2444
https://www.baltimorepolice.org/districts/northeastern-district

Northeast Baltimore
Marzullo Funeral Chapel
6009 Harford Rd, Baltimore, MD 21214
(410) 254-5201
https://www.marzullofuneralchapel.com/

Southeast Baltimore
Charles L Stevens Funeral Home
1501 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230
(410) 752-7739
https://www.charleslstevensfuneralhome.com/

Northwest Baltimore
March Funeral Homes
4300 Wabash Ave, Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 542-2400
http://www.marchfh.com/

Southwest Baltimore
Hubbard Funeral Home Inc
4107 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD 21229
(410) 242-3300
https://www.hubbardfuneralhome.com/

Changing Turn Community Health Care Services
5438 York Rd #103, Baltimore, MD 21212
(443) 708-1461
http://changingturn.org/

ABA Health Services, Inc.
3939 Reisterstown Rd, Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 367-7821
http://www.abahealthservices.com/

Helping Hands Health Services, Inc,
2204 Maryland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21228
(443) 863-7343
http://helpinghadshealth.org/

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:

  1. Secure the scene
  2. Locate ground zero and then move out to the perimeter
  3. Conduct a walkthrough
  4. Document the scene and gather samples
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. The second phase is bloating. The enzymes that eat the cells then produce gas and bacteria.
  3. The third stage is the active decay when body tissue liquefies.
  4. 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.

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.

Who is Responsible For Paying Crime Scene Cleanup Costs?

After a crime is committed in a home or business, not only can it cause significant emotional trauma—it can also leave behind biohazards and chemical contamination that may be dangerous to occupants. Depending upon the type of crime and ensuing investigation, the scene may also have fingerprint powder or tear gas present as well.

It’s reasonable to ask who is responsible for paying crime scene cleanup costs. Unfortunately, although it may seem logical that emergency responders are responsible for at least their share of the cleanup costs, in reality, it’s the owner of the home, business or other type of property who is almost always responsible for biohazardous decontamination, such as the cleanup of blood, bodily tissues, and other bodily fluids.

Costs of Crime Scene Clean Up

Cleanup costs can vary significantly, depending upon the crime, the amount of time that elapsed between the crime and the start of the cleanup, the size of the area affected, the level of structural damage, the difficulty in accessing the crime scene and more.

If you’re faced with the distressing task of crime cleanup at your home, we recommend that you contact the company that holds your homeowner’s insurance policy. Many but not all policies provide coverage. Make sure you talk to your insurance adjuster, rather than the insurance agent whose job it is to sell policies and handle general questions.

It’s important to clearly communicate to the adjuster what happened. Emotionally challenging as it may be to discuss, your policy may pay for certain situations but not others. For example, one homeowner’s policy may pay for homicide or suicide cleanup, while another may pay for that plus cleanup after assaults or accidental deaths. Yet another may not cover these costs at all (more about that soon).

Important facts to know:

  • If your policy does cover crime scene cleanup, the insurance company isn’t allowed to require you to go to a certain cleaning company. They must provide the coverage you’re entitled to, and you pick the crime scene cleaners you want.
  • You may be able to get crime scene clean up funds from your state’s program connected to the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards
  • The court system may ultimately award the crime victim or his/her family with funds for cleanup, but that won’t happen quickly.

Which Crime Scene Cleaners Are Right for You?

Make sure the company actually specializes in crime clean up. Some companies may list this as a specialty, but it’s really a sideline—and this is not the type of situation where you want inexperienced cleaners. You need experienced professionals who provide fast, compassionate service and who can help with insurance claim paperwork and communications.

Advanced Bio-Treatment Crime Cleanup Services

Whether you need forensic cleaning services or another type of crime cleanup, we have live operators ready to take your call anytime of night or day, any day of the year. Call us at 800-295-1684.