There have been a few changes with me since I was last here.
And I have returned here because I need help.
I'm working on a short story- which is my genre- about a young man who gets shot on a sidewalk. After a few days goes by, one of the mothers, disturbed by the sight of the blood stain on the sidewalk, decides to wash it off herself.
So I have questions if a few of you know answers and I'd appreciate the assist
In a murder- do police still use tape or even chalk to outline the body?
AFTER the body is taken away, do the cops remove the chalk or tape outline or do they leave that to the cleaning crew?
(I'm in Ohio if that helps)
Do the cops call a local crime scene clean up crew to clean up the bloodstains from a murder? Or do they have someone in the department that does that?
If one were to clean up a bloodstain on their own- what would one use? (And this is a sticking point for the story.... is it possible for whoever normally cleans blood off sidewalks to be so busy they forget this one scene? Or maybe they are overwhelmed and it gets skipped?)
The setting of the scene is mid summer- so its a hot day and it has been a few days since the murder.
I might also have a few neighbors leave teddy bears and such at the scene as a make shift memorial over a few days which happens with these kinds of crimes.
Typically- who collects up the stuffed animals and candles?
The city? How long is the memorial allowed to remain before they collect the material for disposal?
If you prefer to answer off board my email is email@example.com
I'm not an expert on police procedures. Someone else will answer in more detail, but I'll take a stab at a few points.
Police take photographs of the scene. Perhaps a chalk outline is also used. After that the sidewalk is cleaned off. Not sure if the police do it or the fire department. Blood stains are not allowed to remain.
As for the memorials: surely the family/friends look after them. As a rule, they are allowed to remain for a long time here. I expect that as long as the memorial is maintained and isn't a public nuisance or creates a danger it is allowed. I do know that memorials along highways are removed because they may distract drivers.
The quick and easy answer is to call your local police and ask them. Tell them why you want to know, and I'm sure they'll tell you. If you live near a big city, they probably have a press or public affairs office that specializes in media questions, of which that would be one. For example, I once called the Chicago police to ask what kinds of cars their detectives drove. Guy told me right away.
Google was loaded: Here's a great site
I would not ask other writers for research, at least if accuracy is important. Just read a great column (I think Les Edgerton's site) about how so many big published novels are full of crap when it comes to guns, cops, prisons, and crimes. Like Dana says, these are questions for your local police department.
Well I actually did send an email to the cops and they have yet to respond- don't blame them. It is just a small fictional little story and they already have their hands full with real life.
Besides, I could always have the woman not know herself the best way to clean the stain but still make the effort to TRY..... which is just as good for the story. The whole point of it anyway is how a violent crime affects a neighborhood - or at least two people in that neighborhood. The act itself leaves a stain on several families that can never be fully erased. Which is the whole point of the title "Stain". Thanks for the input folks. If anyone else has an opinion feel free to chime in.
If you want to avoid the whole technical aspect, consider this. Because the mother has been so affected by the crime (perhaps there's been a string of crimes in the neighborhood?), in her mind she "sees" the stains--though they've already been cleaned up--and resolves that she must take care of it herself. Similar to the scene in Macbeth, where Lady Macbeth desperately tries to remove the bloodstains from her hands that are no longer there.
Once the crime scene tape comes down, that's it. It's up to somebody else to clean off the bloodstains. The usual cleaning agents will suffice. I can't recall the last time I saw a body outline; maybe that's changed in the age of computers.
The usual commercial cleaning agents would also be just fine for bloodstains. Since Comet and Ajax and the like are bleaches, I'd recommend something like those.