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Archive for Monday, March 5, 2007

Bill would help fund cleanup at crime scenes

March 5, 2007

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It's not cheap to clean up the scene of a violent crime or a traumatic event, but someone has to pay for it.

Almost always, it's up to the victim or the victim's family to foot the bill for a crime-scene cleanup.

Don McNulty, who has cleaned up crime scenes for a living for 14 years in Kansas and Missouri, said a typical job costs around $2,000.

The bill for his services sometimes come as a surprise to those who have to pay for it.

"They don't know that they're the ones in charge of cleaning it up," said McNulty, the president and founder of Bio Cleaning Services of America, a Kansas City-based company devoted to cleaning crime scenes. "Fourteen years ago, if you polled 100 people off the street, people would not think that there are companies like mine out there."

In part because of the cost for victims to clean up crime scenes, Attorney General Paul Morrison began lobbying the Kansas Legislature to support a bill that would provide up to $1,000 for individual crime-scene cleanup costs if someone doesn't have another way to pay for it, such as property insurance. Cleanup would be defined as removal of blood, stains, odors or debris caused by the crime or the processing of the crime scene.

"In Kansas, the cost of a crime-scene cleanup is left to the victim or their family. This is a financial drain no one should have to face during such a difficult time," Morrison said in a statement. "The responsibility of cleaning a crime scene only adds to the amount of stress felt by the people involved."

The funding would come from the Crime Victims Compensation Board, which operates on a budget in part from fines collected at district courts.

Ashley Anstaett, a spokeswoman for Morrison, said the Crime Victims Compensation Board is a division of the Attorney General's Office that helps pay for medical and funeral costs for victims of crime, but not yet crime-scene cleanup.

"In Paul's mind, this was an extension of that," Anstaett said.

So far, the bill has enjoyed support by legislators. It passed the House by a 123-0 vote in February and now sits in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

McNulty supports the bill as well.

He sometimes does work for free or reduced cost. But the amount of work and time it takes to clean up a violent crime scene means he rarely offers that discount.

In particularly violent scenes, such a suicide he recently worked, cleanup sometimes takes McNulty more than one day to finish.

"It creates what we call a debris field - you've got all sorts of blood and tissue that fly around this room at tremendous velocity and it's just everywhere, literally everywhere," McNulty said. "Even though they're getting pretty realistic in movies, they don't show how graphic it really is. I don't know that you can do that on film."

Comments

Ragingbear 7 years, 9 months ago

Crime Scene Cleanup is actually a lucrative business for the few that don't have a problem with cleaning up the remains of a suicide victim, or an elderly person that passed out and died in a tub of hot water with a plug in heating unit for 2 weeks.

Most of the work can be done in 1-2 days. At $1000 per day, you can see why.

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