“Who would have thought I’d be here 30 years,” Beverly Brevard said while sitting in the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office’s (KCSO) media room on Tuesday.
Brevard, who retires today as the KCSO’s records clerk, was musing over her favorite Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you.”
“You never know what God’s plan is for your life until you live it,” she said.
Brevard has worked at the sheriff’s office for 30 years, one month and four days since being hired by the late Sheriff Hector DeBruhl in February 1989, as a 911 dispatcher.
“I took Brenda Mickle’s place in dispatch, so when I leave (today), someone will take my place,” Brevard said.
Back in 1989, dispatchers worked under the sheriff when it operated out of what is now the voter registration office on Lafayette Street behind the Kershaw County Courthouse.
“I worked in dispatch for six years,” Brevard said. “During that time, we moved to the basement of the courthouse. They later moved to Dusty Bend, but I decided to stay with the sheriff’s office.”
By that time, Brevard worked as the secretary for investigations -- a position that has since transformed into that of victim’s advocate -- before ultimately moving on to being the office’s records coordinator and working on the county’s sex offender registry. Since then, she has continued to act as the sex offender registrar for the county as well as the records clerk for the sheriff’s office.
Brevard has performed all of that work, much of which links up to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), under five different sheriff’s: DeBruhl, Jerry Horton, Steve McCaskill, Jim Matthews and, for the last few months, Lee Boan.
She refused to say which one is her favorite.
“I liked all the sheriffs,” Brevard said, “I really had no issues with any of them.”
She said the same of deputies.
“Most of the officers that have been here a long time -- they haven’t changed their stripes; they’ve been the same toward me the whole time,” Brevard said of their kindness.
She called her work a journey.
“I met so many people, including officers. They were mostly men, at first, but then more women come in and now we’re loaded with women,” Brevard said of the many changes she’s seen during her 30 years at the KCSO.
Brevard said the agency itself has changed from a small one to a “nice size.” The biggest change, perhaps, has been in the form of technology -- from index cards to computers, including the use of the internet.
“I just threw out some index cards we used to enter SLED and NCIC (the National Crime Information Center) information,” Brevard said about cleaning out her office. “We then moved to ledger books and then to computers.”
Brevard’s involvement in cases themselves is somewhat minimal. She has had to testify in court, primarily to attest that records are accurate or correctly maintained, or in connection to her work with the sex offender registry. She did think about becoming a reserve officer -- “I even had a uniform and rode with officers” -- but ultimately decided against it.
Ironically, everyone working in the sheriff’s office, including clerks, now must be certified as at least a Level 3 officer. Brevard is the only one who has not been, having been grandfathered in when the current requirements went into effect.
“You can’t just be a straight civilian anymore,” she said.
A certified law enforcement officer or not, Brevard has not skimped on the meticulousness needed to maintain records, including the sex offender registry.
“We have to ‘pack the record’ now,” Brevard explained. “I have to put everything I know about the offender in the record. You even have to do that for the in-house record for any warrants.”
Again, the idea is to make sure the record is accurate. There have been instances of people having the same name as sex offenders being denied jobs. Brevard said an accurate record can help people prove they’re not the person on the registry.
On the other hand, Brevard makes the point that not every person on the sex offender registry is a danger to children or others.
“I have tried to work from the heart,” she said. “I follow up with offenders in an effort to help them see that their offense doesn’t have to define their life.”
She mentioned one young man she has been trying to work with, even going by the offender’s house to talk to his mother.
“She told me, ‘I don’t know how to show my appreciation for what you’ve done for my son,’” Brevard recalled.
This isn’t the first time she’s mentioned this take on the, mostly, men and some women on the registry. In Feb. 2013, the C-I reported on concerns some parents had regarding the possibility of a sex offender coming on school grounds to pick up or drop off their own children. Brevard and Kershaw County School District Director of Communications Mary Anne Byrd both said being on the registry does not take away a person’s parental rights, unless those rights are directly tied to their custody of a child. Brevard said then that sex offenders can have a normal life. In fact, she noted that none of Kershaw County offenders on the registry at the time were considered predators.
About a year earlier, in April 2012, Brevard assisted the C-I with a two-part series about the sex offender registry. That series revealed two major facts Brevard shared: 1) most offenders comply with the law to register and re-register when they’re supposed to, and 2) most offenders have learned their lesson or gotten the help they need not to reoffend.
Tuesday night, Kershaw County Council honored Brevard with a proclamation recognizing her 30 years on the job. During that recognition, Sheriff Lee Boan talked about why Brevard has been successful through five different administrations.
“Anybody who’s worked at the sheriff’s office knows that working for just one can be hard, but working for five different (sheriffs) -- notice the word, ‘different’ … she’s gone through four transitions, none of which were a sheriff who picked their next sheriff, so these were entirely different administrations she changed up,” Boan said. “And I can tell you the reason she was successful and made it through these 30-plus years is because she never lost sight of this order: the citizens first, then the sheriff’s office, then the sheriff. One thing I can tell you all sheriffs agree on is we work for the citizens. Beverly never lost sight of that; she’s always served the citizens of Kershaw County.”
Afterward, Brevard mentioned Jeremiah 29:11 again, saying she didn’t know what her plan was for all those years, but God did.
“So, by staying here for 30 years, I know that (plan) now,” Brevard said, and ended with a quote from Stephen Grellet: “‘I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.’”
That being said, if you see me on the street, if there’s anything I can help you with, anything I can do for you, just let me know.”
Born in Kershaw County, Brevard was raised for a number of years in Connecticut before coming back in 1974 and graduating from Camden High School in 1978. She married Maj. Robert Smith, who passed away in 2006. Brevard has a nephew she has raised as a son since the age of 2, 26-year-old Pierre Brevard, a graphic designer; and a daughter, A’Lecia India Smith, 33, who works at a hospital in Lexington.
Brevard’s 90-year-old mother, Mary Bracey Brevard, joined her during Tuesday’s recognition; her father was the late Thompson Brevard.
“We’re just going to enjoy the rest of our lives,” Brevard said of her and her mother earlier in the day at KCSO headquarters. “I love to make cakes, but I don’t really know what my plans are. I’m also a lay minister for my church.”
She said retiring is bittersweet, especially as the last day drew near.
“A lot of the people -- people who come just to see me -- are asking me who they’re going to vent to,” Brevard said, only half-joking.
The cards, flowers and phone calls she had received by then was a testament to how many lives Beverly Brevard has touched as more than just a records keeper.