When you think of “crime scene processing” you might envision CSI or other TV dramas, but the reality can be quite different. Crime scene processing is essentially the collecting of evidence when a crime has taken place and ensuring that a fair and representative investigation follows.
A crime scene can be any location where a crime was committed, and often involves many different players. Investigators, detectives, reconstructionists, and analysts will all be present at a crime scene, as well as a crime scene cleanup team who is responsible for restoring the scene to its original state.
Below, we break down exactly what a crime scene is, what happens during crime scene processing, and what the role of technical cleaning companies is along the way.
What is Crime Scene Processing?
Whenever a crime occurs, there is a legal obligation to assess what happened. Authorities will seal off the place in question and take certain steps to collect forensic evidence and document the exact scenario to help determine what has unfolded. Crime scene processing is methodical, takes time, and follows a list of very specific protocols.
When processing a crime scene, professionals will gather an array of evidence ranging from bodily fluids, fingerprints, fibers, clothing, and weapons. They’ll also take photographs, make sketches, and create a preliminary narrative about the scene. During the processing stage, no members of the public will be allowed to enter the scene, nor will any details be shared publicly.
What Happens During Crime Scene Processing?
How a crime scene is processed typically depends on the type and severity of the crime that has taken place. However, there are a few standard steps that police and other authorities keep to.
First, they identify the main area of the scene, for example, where the body is positioned or if there is a clear realm of attack. Investigators then determine how big the perimeter around this point should be to concentrate their processing efforts. They also take into consideration any entries or exits that could have been used by anyone involved in the crime.
Second, investigators secure the scene. It’s well known that anyone who comes into or leaves the crime scene after the fact will add or subtract something from it, so the faster boundaries are set up around the scene, the better. From this point forward, only authorized personnel can access the scene.
Next, investigators have to propose a theory about the type of crime. Doing so enables them to know what evidence they need, such as collecting witness statements. They’ll additionally do a primary walkthrough of the scene, taking notes and photos to get a feel for the conditions at the time of the crime. Once completed, a full processing will begin, including collecting biological evidence, firearm evidence, and trace evidence. A secondary review process will run afterward as a quality control measure.
As a final step—and because the police, EMTs, and coroner are not responsible for cleanup or disposal of dangerous hazardous materials—a technical cleaning company is called to sanitize the area.
How do technical cleaning companies become involved?
As soon as the crime scene processing has concluded, the police, family members, friends, or the property owner will call a technical cleaning company. Also known as forensic cleaning, these companies have experts who know how to effectively and efficiently remove stains from blood and bodily fluids. Technical cleaners, like Valor, also have the correct equipment and protective wear to thoroughly restore the scene as close as possible to what it was before the crime.
Technical cleaning crews know how to follow certain legal requirements as well. Fines of up to $2 million are possible if the area where a dead body is not properly cleaned. Likewise, not disposing of biohazardous waste can result in fines between $200,000 to $20 million. Cleanup crews equally have the appropriate containers to prevent substances from spilling during transport, storage, and disposal.
Not to mention, technical cleaning crews are specialized at handling contamination sources that can host infectious organisms and harm people that come into contact with them. Blood is a contamination source as viruses like Zika, Syphilis, Ebola, and Malaria can be transmitted through direct contact with it. Airborne toxins from blood can also be dangerous if breathed in by bystanders. Authorities, therefore, don’t just rely on professional cleaning crews to organize the scene in a compliant and hygienic manner, they also rely on them to safeguard people’s health.
By now, we hope that you have a clearer idea of what crime scene processing is, who is involved, and why technical cleaning is so important. Contact us to learn more about how professional clean-up teams support a crime setting.