Who cleans up after a crime scene has been committed? If you’ve heard of crime scene cleanup companies, it was probably in a fictional show like Law & Order or CSI. Crime scene cleanup companies play an important role in the justice system, but most people don’t know much about what the job actually entails. Today, we’ll be looking at four myths surrounding crime scene cleanup teams and the work they do after a murder occurs.

1. Law Enforcement Cleans Up Crime Scenes

When a crime occurs, first responders like police and EMTs cordon off the area. Every step of securing the scene, recovering victims, and collecting evidence is carefully orchestrated. Forensic scientists collect fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence. You might assume that they continue the process to the end and clean up the scene after they’ve finished collecting evidence.

However, you’d be wrong. Once law enforcement personnel have what they need for their investigation, they leave. Crime scenes are left in whatever state the police found them. This fact is why homicide cleanup teams are so important. They clean and sanitize a location to remove the reminders of a crime and return it to a habitable state.

2. Crime Scene Cleanup Teams Solve Crimes

In the public imagination, sometimes forensic science and homicide cleanup overlap. Both work with the aftermath of violent crimes. Both make use of high tech equipment to do their jobs. Surely, cleanup crews work alongside forensic technicians to process a scene, right?

Actually, the opposite is true. Forensic scientists start and finish their investigation of a scene before cleanup teams ever arrive. Murder cleanup technicians only start their work when law enforcement officials release the scene the public again. Their job is to remove bloodstains, not catalog them. Cleanup teams almost never contribute to police investigations.

3. Tear Gas is an Easy, Clean Tool

US police forces commonly make use of a number of aerosol chemicals collectively known as tear gas. Tear gas causes coughing, vomiting, and watering of the eyes, and is often used for riots and hostage situations. The benefit of tear gas is that it can incapacitate a person without killing them. As frequently as we hear about its use, it’s easy to assume that tear gas is a simple tool for law enforcement that dissipates safely after use.

In reality, tear gas is a messy weapon with lasting effects. After use, the gas settles into a fine powder that coats every surface it touches. It settles into porous materials like wood and fabrics. HVAC systems present will undoubtedly be contaminated as well. Left untreated, tear gas residue can cause lasting health problems for years after the initial incident. Professional cleanup teams will go over every surface in your home or business and make sure it is free of tear gas residue.

4. Crime Scene Cleanup Technicians are Cold and Impersonal

When you picture a mortician or undertaker, you probably picture a cold, gray man without any feelings. It’s a stereotype we see over and over in popular culture. Almost everyone with a job that involves death gets the same treatment, and homicide cleanup technicians are no exception. People assume that they are emotionless and rude, concerned more with the dead than the living.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Crime scene cleanup companies meet people at one of the most tragic times in their lives. The technicians that clean up after a crime has occurred are very sensitive to the pain their clients are feeling. They do their best to work quickly and thoroughly, to minimize hardship and allow a victim’s family to move forward as soon as possible.