When we landed in Brazil, I had no idea of the opportunities God was going to provide for me. I didn’t think that I would be able to have any interaction with the forensic science system in Brazil, mostly because Dr. Kovach and I decided that a ride along in Brazil would not be safe. I didn’t know anyone in the country to try to set up a tour of the lab either.
The first night in my host family’s house, my host sister Mariana’s boyfriend, Eduardo, came over for dinner. He explained to me how he was a Delegato, which roughly translates to Sherriff, and how he worked for the Sao Andre police department.
As I was walking home the next day after class, I felt God telling me to ask to shadow him. I bravely followed God’s lead, I asked, and after comparing schedules, the job shadow was set up for Monday afternoon.
Monday came, and I still had minimal expectations. Since I am the only forensic science major on the trip, I was the only student who went to the police station. I toured the station, which was an old jail that was converted into the station. On the tour, the man who worked in the case file room asked if I wanted to see the necrotério (morgue) and the polícia científica (scientific police) lab in Sao Andre. He told me to wait in Eduardo’s office as he made a couple of phone calls, and in less than five minutes we had access to go to both places.
Before heading to the morgue, we went upstairs, and they let me see some ballistic and drug evidence that was going to be destroyed. I was also allowed to read the case files pertaining to that evidence. From what I understood, the drugs came from a favela (poor neighborhood) that dealers use as a point for distribution.
Next, we got in a police car to go to the medical examiner’s office. When we got there, we were told they were going to perform an autopsy on someone who had died at home and asked me if I wanted to watch. Of course, I said yes. As if the autopsy wasn’t exciting enough, we got back in the police car and drove to the scientific police lab.
The scientific police lab in Sao Andre is responsible for vehicular examinations and preliminary testing. All the confirmatory tests happen at the Sao Paulo crime lab. Sadly, I had to leave the crime lab at five, but I wanted to stay, talking and observing. Even though it’s over, I’m so glad God provided this opportunity, and I cannot wait to see what other opportunities God will provide for the remainder of this trip.