Today we all woke up at our usual times, and met at the Escola Americana de Campinas once again. But instead of going to Casa Ronald McDonald as we usually do, today was an off day. Today would comprise of a trip to São Paulo where we would all go to the Civil Police Palace and the University to see the DNA lab, and then finish out trip to the Brazilian coast for the weekend.
After a one and a half hour drive from Campinas, we arrived at the police palace where we met with our tour guide who also was the chief of the homicide department, Paulo. He stated that his English for the most part came from “Game of Thrones,” but even with that he spoken near fluent English. We all entered the building and headed up the elevator to the homicide department in the police palace. All the departments of the Civil Police of São Paulo are located in this building.
At the homicide department, were able to see the equipment that they use to identify a body and what they use to age the images that they are given of missing people. Later, Dr. Sato, the Deputy Chief of Police for São Paulo talked to us for a good hour or so. But since this talk went over, we were unable to go to the University and see the DNA lab, but that was all right.
After the talk though, we headed directly to the coast. There was some concern that protesters would be out blocking the roads, but there were none that any of us could see. Going down the mountains to the beach, we passed a gorgeous waterfall, and stopped there for a little bit. Later, we finished the trip to the shore and arrived at the apartments at the beach. Once there we put all of our items in the apartment and headed down to the beach to watch the sunset.
Once the sun had set, we all walked to the mall to eat more pizza then should have been allowed. Some people, including me ate around five slices. But using the idea that Brazilian food is made from better ingredients, most of us tend to eat more. Then, we all walked back to the apartment and went to bed to wake up tomorrow.
After a very long drive to the city of São Paulo, the São Paulo city police chief of the homicide department, a very charismatic man, who claims the bulk of his grasp of English was from watching “Game of Thrones”, greeted us in his dapper suit. Carol described him as one of the most powerful men in São Paulo. His smile never faded for long and when he spoke, most of his words were tinged with humor. However, he truly did have a serious side , regardless of his mood, this was a man who handled more than 700 cases of gruesome homicide in the city of São Paulo in his first year in his position. I regarded this, especially when he said, “This is a warning, the things you will see may be hard to watch. If you might find issue with this, let me know.” When no one objected, he began the tour.
During the tour of the facility (which he described as, “The Palace of the São Paulo Police”) he described what he knew to be the distinctions between the São Paulo Police and the police in the US. As I understood it, the military police were the ones in uniform patrolling the streets and handing tickets to drivers and putting cuffs on criminals. The civil police (which included him and his team) were the higher-ups, who wore suits and conversed with even higher higher-ups.) He introduced the kind older woman that was with him to be the head of her own missing person’s organization that worked closely with the São Paulo Police and she was incited to do so because of the disappearance of her own daughter, who she continues to search for to this day. You would never guess that from the way she smiled.
He lead us to a room where he and his team (a group of about five men and women who looked very savvy and experienced) described to us the cases of disappearances and homicides, unfortunately the two are occasionally linked. They also showed us the technology they use for these purposes, such as the facial reconstruction and the artificial aging technology. Honestly, the specific cases they brought up were hard to hear at times and the images were very difficult to stomach but these men and women didn’t even wince, which saddened me and evoked much more of my respect for them.
Afterwards, we met with the first and current deputy police chief of São Paulo, Ms. Sato. In a room that I can only assume is usually used when the police have to address the press, she described her job and answered our questions with help of the chief of the homicide department, who translated for her. When we were finished, she gathered us, thanked us, and then asked something of us. Sincerely, she asked us to fight for justice in any aspect we can and in every environment we ever find ourselves in because with enough work we can change the places we live for the better. Even if the result is small, with enough people doing it, the results could very well be monumental. These truly inspiring words, saturated with sincerity, revealed why she took up this work; she was just a person who wants to make the world a better place, a desire everyone shares. As they bid us farewell, I decided that I intend to do my part to honor her request.