A longtime victim/witness advocate for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office resigned after a Sept. 30 incident involving alcohol.
Jim “Bimbo” Brewer, 69, was off duty Sept. 30 when dispatch called him concerning “several major incidents requiring advocacy,” spokesman Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks said.
While at Northeast Georgia Medical Center assisting with a fatal car crash, a fellow officer noted the odor of alcohol on Brewer’s breath and notified his supervisor, who responded to the hospital to investigate, he said.
Brewer “was immediately relieved of his duties, removed from the scene and a follow-up meeting was scheduled with his supervisor for the following morning,” Wilbanks said.
“At that meeting, Brewer took full responsibility for his actions, submitted his resignation letter and emphasized that his only desire was to serve the victims’ family during such a tragic event,” he added.
“It should be emphasized that he was not scheduled to work or be on-call that night, but due to the circumstances he felt compelled to ... help people during their time of need,” Wilbanks said.
Brewer, a sheriff’s employee since September 2001, likened his experienced to “being caught in a perfect storm.”
At the time he was called, “I was sitting at home, reading a book and drinking a glass of wine,” he said.
Initially, Brewer was called to the Georgia State Patrol post on Cleveland Highway to a report of a dispatcher who had died.
At that point, he said, he acted on instinct.
“Duty calls,” he said. “I have never in my entire life been impaired ever, even in college days. So, I responded, but I felt like I had to. There may have been other choices, but the situation was such that when they called, I just went.”
He drove to the scene, where he was with other law enforcement officials, including Sheriff Steve Cronic, for two hours “with nobody saying anything at all.”
Then, a fatal accident occurred in Clermont — one that, according to Wilbanks, killed a former sheriff’s deputy’s 4-year-old child and mother-in-law.
“My partner was up there,” Brewer said. “The reason I went (on duty) to begin with was he was working a death in South Hall. We had four bodies in two hours’ time.”
Brewer went to the hospital, where again he was surrounded by law enforcement.
“Someone smelled the wine and I didn’t try to disguise it, because I didn’t have time to and I probably wouldn’t have anyway,” he said.
Wilbanks said Brewer was administered a hand-held Alco-sensor test, which indicated positive for the presence of alcohol in his breath.
“His physical manifestation at the hospital was simply having the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath or person,” said Wilbanks, adding that Brewer was not allowed to drive home.
The sheriff’s spokesman also noted that the office’s Code of Conduct states that “employees shall not ... appear for duty, or be on duty while influenced by intoxicants, or drive any agency vehicle while his/her blood alcohol level is above .00 percent.”
“It happened. I am tremendously embarrassed about it and sorry about it ... but there’s nothing I can do about it,” Brewer said.
“Having said that, I can honestly and truly say that I can’t see that I did anything wrong. I did my duty as I saw it and as I felt like I had to do it,” he added. “I didn’t feel like I had any real options.”
Despite the incident, Brewer will be remembered fondly at the department.
He “has been a tremendous asset not only to this department, but more importantly to this community,” Wilbanks said. “He has served the needs of hundreds of victims and their family members during some of the most difficult times in their lives.
“It’s unfortunate that his overwhelming desire to serve led to a momentary lapse in judgment, but the manner in which he took full responsibility for his actions is true to his character. His heart for service and dedication to victims will be greatly missed.”