When Jeremy Cumberford goes to everyday places like the gas station or grocery store, people often ask him about the shirt or hat he has on. When you have on clothing that reads “Crime Scene Cleaners INC” people are naturally curious. Most people are likely to assume it is just an cheeky choice of clothing much like sporting an FBI shirt or one that reads SECURITY. For Jeremy Cumberford, Crime Scene Cleaners INC is a career he is passionate about. The Chief Operating Officer of the Kansas City biohazard cleaning service, spoke with Blogger Local about what it’s like to work in a business that deals with some of life and death’s most difficult cleaning scenarios. Despite the preconceived notions people might have about what Jeremy does, he related that people are still inquire as to whether the job has any openings or not. He said that many people claim to be fully qualified to deal with some of the gruesome and disturbing things Crime Scene Cleaners deals with on a daily basis, but after talking with Kansas City biohazard removal specialist I would assume that most people might reconsider after a day or two on the job.
So what are some of the jobs a Crime Scene Cleanup team member might encounter? Here is a partial list of the many types of jobs CSC (Crime Scene Cleaners) deals with.
- Unattended Death
- Meth Labs
- Needle Sweeps
- Police Vehicles
The CSC generally deals with individual’s or families with cleaning and removal needs but also works with various groups such as Police, Fire and Funeral Homes. A haeavy portion of the jobs CSC works involve a suicide or unattended deaths. (Unattended Death: referring to a deceased person who has been unnoticed for a period of time after death) These types of clean up jobs are often difficult for families to cope with. The sensitive nature of family grievance dictates that CSC be incredibly empathetic in nature and understanding of the complexities that the situation creates. When I spoke with Jeremy he emphasized how important it was that he treat his clients as if they were his own family going through the grieving process. Jeremy’s disposition towards his clients is indicative of why customers choose to use CSC. When it comes time for a family to choose a Kansas City crime scene cleanup service, slick advertising and #1 search engine rankings aren’t necessarily what they are looking for to assure them they will have a good fit with the service provider during their time of grievance. Family’s more often than not seek advice from the doctor overseeing the deceased’s body, police and funeral homes, to help them decide on what service provider to use for their cleanup needs. Crime Scene Cleaners INC receives referrals from many area funeral homes, who have worked with the company since their creation in 1999. The funeral homes offer their referral to the deceased’s family as a way to help them deal with moving on to some sort of closure.
Jeremy explained to me that in many cases family members, crime scene investigators and property owners make the mistake of vastly underestimating the amount cleanup and disposal that is needed to properly and hygienically clean a space after a tragedy has occurred. To articulate his statement, the CSC Chief Operating Officer showed me a picture of a carpet with what appeared to be a bodily fluid stain only about 2 ft in diameter. He then showed me a picture of where the same spot was but after the carpet had been peeled back. The stain in actuality was about 12ft long and ran the length of the room until it hit the wall, where it then ran along the baseboard in the direction the floor slanted. The hazardous fluid was then soaked up by the drywall. I was pretty shocked when Jeremy detailed all of the unseen damage the crime scene had sustained and all of which has to be treated as a biohazard risk.
A major part of the Kansas City crime scene cleanup operations involve tearing out and removing materials that have come in direct contact with biohazardous materials. These can include some of the following:
- Vinyl Flooring
- Floor Boards / Sub Floor
Essentially any material that is porous in nature is susceptible to being at risk of contamination.
For customers it can be a shock, having to face the realization that not only are they grieving but they will have to have their house torn apart and repaired. Jeremy reminds Blogger Local readers that under most circumstances and policies, home owner’s insurance covers the services of the Crime Scene Cleaners INC with homeowners only paying their deductible like they would for any claim. In some instances homeowners even have to strip down areas of their house or business, down to the floor joists or studs. Cumberford said that some cases he has even had to reinforce the structure of the house to tear out affected floor joists. I learned that in the specific case of a meth lab clean up, CSC must take samples of the walls and interiors to be analyzed by a lab to see if they meet guidelines that determine if a property will be come inhabitable again. For properties that have had a meth lab on them, it is common procedure to have them condemned until they have been cleaned and brought back to a safe and habitable condition. Jeremy was very adamant in mentioning that in some cases if a homeowner decides not to properly clean up and dispose of a biohazardous, their homeowner’s insurance or mortgage company can lawfully force them to do so.
When I sat down with Jeremy it was easy to tell that he was a down to earth man that had an altruistic quality about his desire to deal with what most people would never dream of. At the core of what he loves best about his job is how he contributes positively to help people deal with the grieving process, while helping them begin to feel a sense of closure and resolution. You can tell Jeremy values family and makes a point to treat all his customers, who are at some of their darkest hours, just like his own. How does a guy that seems so normal and well intended end up dealing with some of life’s most nauseating circumstances for a living? Jeremy told me that one day he was at an auto auction and he met a man who sold cars that had been in crime scenes. Jeremy struck up an interest in learning about the man’s business and eventually after cutting his teeth working on cleaning up auto crime scenes, he found his way to Crime Scene Cleaners.
Jeremy made the switch to CSC because he felt they treated their customers with dignity and gave them fair pricing in their times of distress. From talking with Cumberford I learned that the Kansas City crime scene cleaning business is part of an industry that is still fairly young at 20 years. The industry is currently not regulated by any state or federal agencies and essentially is only governed by general work safety laws. The industry generally relies on self regulation and has no standardized quantification on pricing. This, warns Jeremy, is where things can get complicated. He said for the most part from his experience in Kansas City, that most of his competitors are great people who run an honest business and charge people fairly. On the other hand he warned that people regardless of choosing his business or a competitor’s should be cautious of national company crime scene cleanup company that has consistently been known to overcharging people and insurance companies on what essentially mounts to fraud. Being the classy guy that Jeremy is, he didn’t tell me out right what company he was referring to, but with a quick internet search it wasn’t hard to find out. One of the company’s dirtiest policies involves over billing their client’s insurance. In some cases their client’s homeowner’s insurance denied the exorbitant bill and the home owners were left to pay the bill out of pocket. The company then went after some home owners by putting a lien on their house to force them into paying the bill. The very idea of this is unsettling as a business practice but when you consider that the people who are being taken advantage of in many cases in their depressed and fragile emotional states, it becomes truly sad.
Jeremy is committed to protecting the image of the Kansas City crime scene cleaning industry, so much so that he regularly attends police training conferences. He attends them to help inform officers about the imperative need for crime scenes and other biohazard scenes to be dealt with professionally and clinically. He advocates for the consumers by letting the police know about what kind of rates should be expected from the self regulating industry aside from the previously mentioned national cleaning company. He also warns them about how fraudulent crime scene cleaning prices contribute to increased premium rates for home owners. Jeremy also is concerned that for company’s like his national competitor will convince the general public that the biohazard cleaning services are much more expensive than they are. This he fears, will drive people away from considering having the job done professionally and will try and take on the task themselves. This is ultimately dangerous for two reasons. The first reason being that blood and bodily fluid born pathogens can live in dried fluid for years after they enter a porous surface. The pathogens can be reanimated with moisture or inhaled when they become particularized. The second reason for people to consider a hazardous cleaning service like CSC, is that although a person might be mentally stable enough to embark upon cleaning up after their loved one, it can truly take a devastating toll on an already at risk, emotionally drained person.
One thing I was curious to know about, was how the stresses of the job have affected Jeremy as a person? He related that the job has opened his eyes to how widespread suicide is. He realized that in many cases the person who commits suicide might seemingly have so much to live for from outside observation. Jeremy said that for some people who appeared to have so much to live for and still took their life, that it indicated the extreme levels of pain and turmoil the person must have truly been feeling inside themselves. I was curious to know if Jeremy’s job had impacted his dreams in anyway. For him the job doesn’t subconsciously manifest into nightmares but does enter his dream state in a more pragmatic sense. Cumberford said that if he does have a dream with a work related slant to it, it generally consists of him going through a house preemptively to stage it for work. I was also curious to know if Jeremy saw any professional like a psychologist or therapist to help him deal with seeing the morbid side of life on a daily basis. For Jeremy, he relies in talking with friends and family who will listen. He emphasized that when he talks to his inner circle he always makes sure they are up for it mentally and emotionally.
It isn’t difficult to tell that Jeremy, as hard as it is to believe, truly is passionate about his job. He lives for helping people so their lives can move forward with resolution and closure. He has an immense capacity for empathizing with his customers and understands the fragility of their situation. For Jeremy, dignity and respect are the foundations of how he conducts business. If any Blogger Local readers or their loved ones, ever find themselves at the unfortunate juncture of needing a crime scene cleaning company, they can rest assured knowing that Jeremy and the crew at CSC are available 24 hours a day and provide free estimates based on reasonable pricing. When making the choice to call Crime Scene Cleaners INC, customers can rest assured knowing that a team of highly trained experts will tend to their needs in the most professional and emotionally considerate way.
This Kansas City Blog wants to thank Jeremy Cumberford for taking the time out to give us a truly informative and insightful look into the world of Crime Scene Cleaning.