The Aftermath: What Happens After the Crime Scene Closes

Umu Jalloh Bah, J1 Staff Writer

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Have your ever watched CSI or another type of TV crime show? On these shows, dramatic moments occur and then, sometimes, the crime scene tech solves the crime with their quick thinking or deep insight.

However, what happens after everyone leaves the crime scene? Who is left to clean up all of the mess left behind? If you said the police, you are mistaken.

There is actually a job that takes care of the clean up following crimes. The job, which is most often called CTS Decon – or crime scene & trauma decontamination is a job which helps grieving families erase the treacherous scene that was left after their family member has passed.  Cities take care of important crime-related material that needs to be eliminated or washed away.

According to the article “How crime-scene clean-up works” by howstuffworks.com, it all started around the late 1990’s. Before that, the victim’s families remained to clean up the mess that was left, after police would leave the scene. The CTS decon’s  job is to erase any sign of what happened, for example, if somebody was stabbed or shot and the carpet is soaked with blood, chances are underneath the carpet there is blood soaked into the floorboards as well. So they would have to pull the whole floor apart.

Crime scene cleanup isn’t just about cleaning up crime scenes related to murder, assault or other bloody crimes.There are some cases where the cleanup is related to materials such as tear gas or a meth lab. In fact, cleaning up meth lab crime scenes is  quite dangerous. According to Julia Layton’s article “How crime-scene clean-up works,” the health risks for this type of clean up are serious. Layton writes, “In terms of health risks, a meth lab clean-up is about as scary as it gets. The laundry list of poisons used to make street-grade methamphetamine…leaves a toxic residue that coats and infuses every surface and stays in the air. Most of these poisonous substances are absorbed through the skin, making a meth lab one of the most dangerous places a person can walk into. Exposure to a meth lab can cause reproductive disorders, birth defects, blindness, lung damage, liver damage and kidney damage.”   

While the job can be hazardous, the training for it is not overly significant in regard to time, but you do have to learn a lot important techniques and information. According to the the article “What are the requirements for crimes scene cleanup companies,” from the organization Aftermath, a company that specializes in trauma cleaning and biohazard removal, CTS Decon workers only need to have a GED or a high school diploma, but must complete required pre-employment and on-the-job training experience.  Also, it is a very hands-on job. It  requires knowledge of how to use certain materials and some experience in forensics.

To work as a crime scene cleaner an individual must have good communication skills and, in certain cases, reassure the families of the deceased that everything is going to be okay. Additionally, crime scene cleaners need to be physically fit and able to carry 50 pounds or more. Also, this is an on call job, which means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

According to Aftermath, the salary range to become a crime scene cleanup technician can start between $35,000 to 80,000 a year. If you work for a reputable company you can make a six figure check.  The CTS Decon doesn’t necessarily work with the police, they arrive after the police have left. They usually work for a separate company called in by the family.

Ultimately, this type of work can be very hard because you can see some things that can leave an impression that affect you for the rest of your life. It might not be as appealing as other jobs, but in the end you are helping a family in need.

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The Aftermath: What Happens After the Crime Scene Closes