Forensic scientists and crime scene technicians both play an essential role in investigating as well as solving crimes. Another crucial aspect not to be overlooked is crime scene cleanup, which is a critical element following the advent of a crime, particularly violent crimes. In many cases, crime scene cleanup in both commercial and residential settings involves dealing with potentially hazardous materials, such as blood, excrement, semen, and other bodily fluids. Forensics and crime scene cleanup are separate but related areas that must work hand in hand to get the job done. It is not just a matter of solving a crime or determining the cause of an accident, there are also safety concerns to be addressed.
While crime scene techs analyze the accident or crime scene and collect evidence, it is the forensic scientists who analyze the evidence in order to gather clues pointing to a possible suspect, the cause of death, or other key pieces of information. While their roles are quite different, they work in league together and law enforcement counts on the contributions of these professionals to help them solve crimes. Meanwhile, those charged with crime scene cleanup must adhere to strict guidelines and protocols in place for public safety reasons.
The technicians that are tasked with handling such cleanup areas have special training and knowledge to thoroughly evaluate, sanitize, clean, and disinfect a crime scene area, minimize emotional distress related to the incident, and restore a property to its former status. Moreover, these techs must also make certain any hazardous materials involved are disposed of in a proper fashion and that public safety is a priority.
Technicians who are trained in this field are experienced with a wide variety of crime scene cleanup situations. Whether the crime scene involves an accidental death, homicide, suicide, or some other type of injury, these specialists are extensively trained in accessing the scene and handling the cleanup in a thorough as well as professional manner.
Forensics and crime scene cleanup are separate but related areas that must work together to get the job done. It is important to understand the differences involved in both fields. While crime scene technicians, who are often based at police departments or other law enforcement agencies, spend much of their time in the field, forensic scientists usually work in forensic labs, which are controlled, monitored, and contained. Crime scene techs visit a variety of crime scenes to collect evidence and spend much of their workday out in the field, as well as on their feet. They never know until they arrive at the scene what conditions might be involved or how long it will take to clear the scene. They must sometimes work very long hours to ensure all evidence is collected. Conversely, forensic scientists usually work in a laboratory setting, which are kept comfortable, safe, and not exposed to the elements. Unlike crime scene techs, scientists who specialize in forensics are well aware of the environment they will be exposed to on a daily basis and usually work a standard 40-hour week.
Once forensics is in order and the techs have completed their collection, crime scene cleanup must be handled before law enforcement can release the scene and allow citizens access to the affected area(s). No matter what quantities of bodily fluids or other contaminants might be present at a crime scene, crime scene cleanup techs are trained to handle the cleanup process with a detail-oriented approach, as well as special attention to safety and security protocols. Much like forensics itself, the devil is in the details.
Since forensics is such a specialized area, scientists who are trained in forensics require more formal education than crime scene technicians do. In fact, many crime scene techs start out as law enforcement officers. Crime scene technicians might have a two-year degree and some criminal justice training, especially at rural or smaller law enforcement agencies. Meanwhile, metropolitan or larger departments might require their crime scene technicians to have a bachelor’s degree in science or forensic investigation. On the other hand, scientists who specialize in forensics must have at least an undergraduate degree in a natural science, such as physics, biology, or chemistry. While crime scene technicians need specialized training in criminal investigation, forensic scientists often need only a science degree because they do not investigate crimes directly and are usually not in the field. Instead, they conduct scientific experiments and analysis related to forensics. However, some scientists who pursue this occupation opt to supplement their science training with graduate degrees in forensic investigation.
Other factors to consider in relation to crime scene cleanup include making sure the technicians involved are in fact experts in their field and properly trained, that no crime scene is too big or small to handle, and they are ready to assist those affected through their ordeal, no matter what is involved. Additional important features of a crime scene cleanup team include fast response, around-the-clock availability (24/7/365 days a year), current sanitation and decontamination techniques and/or equipment, as well as full service accommodations at all crime scene locations.
While forensic scientists and crime scene technicians both play an essential role in investigating as well as solving crimes, another crucial aspect not to be overlooked is crime scene cleanup, which is a critical element following the advent of a crime, particularly violent crimes. In many cases, crime scene cleanup in both commercial and residential settings involves dealing with potentially hazardous materials, such as blood, excrement, semen, and other bodily fluids. Forensics and crime scene cleanup are separate but related areas that must work hand in hand to get the job done. It is not just a matter of solving a crime or determining the cause of an accident, there are also many safety concerns to be considered. These safety concerns involve not only the affected crime scene areas, but public safety as well. Any hazardous materials involved in a crime scene must be disposed of in a proper fashion and public safety protocols must be adhered to in order for law enforcement to release the scene, as well as the public to be allowed access.
Written and Edited by Leigh Haugh
Ezine Articles–Crime Scene Forensics: Telling the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Crime Scenes
HowStuffWorks–How Crime Scene Investigation Works
Chron–Difference Between Forensic Scientists and Crime Scene Technicians