There’s a special bond between law enforcement and the community in Monroe County. Look no further than Monroe County Sheriff’s Capt. Corey Bryan, commanding officer for the village of Islamorada, and his wife, Peggy, who’s also a longtime employee of the sheriff’s office.
The two are usually spreading the holiday cheer every year at the annual Holiday Fest in Islamorada. An active member of the Upper Keys Rotary Club, Corey is also usually out on the all-terrain vehicle connecting with the public during events at Founders Park. He’s also been spotted leading parades, as he did recently with the Coral Shores Class of 2020.
He’s also worked closely with the village on several high-priority safety matters that, more recently, include activity at the Fills and traffic on Old Highway during busy weekends and holidays.
Serving the Keys community for the last 34 years, Bryan looks back fondly on what’s been quite the career as he prepares to retire. And Peggy, too, is calling it a career from her 32 years as a records supervisor for the sheriff’s office in Key Largo and Islamorada. Jan. 4, 2021 will be the last day for the Bryans as they prepare to leave the Keys en route to their cabin home and 10 acres of property in Ocala, where some old friends and sheriff’s deputies also live.
“We always talked about it the last couple years of what we wanted to do,” Corey said. “Spenser, our son, he’s a lieutenant, he’s buying our house. He’s always wanted our place when we were done. So we’re like ‘we have to make a decision here.’ This is a good time to go and get moving on. I got 10 years with the village, short of 7 days. It worked out good.”
Corey said it was Peggy who propelled him into a career in law enforcement. The two were high school sweethearts going back to their days in Colorado. Peggy saw an ad on TV for a reserve officer, and Corey applied.
“I knew he wanted to be a police officer,” Peggy said.
He was hired, worked two shifts and was asked if he wanted to work in the jail, to which Corey said “yes.” After three years, he applied to departments in the Keys, Fort Lauderdale and Kansas. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff William Freeman contacted Corey first. He took the job and was on the road to Florida.
“I always wanted to live in Florida and thought this would be great,” he said. “Then they offered this spot down here and I thought ‘oh my god.’ I was enamored of the whole thing. I thought this was the greatest thing ever. We weren’t shell-shocked by the cost of living because we grew up in Summit County, Colorado, and that’s where everything was expensive because of all the ski areas.”
When they first came down, Peggy waited tables and worked at the old Mariners Hospital. In 1988, a job came open in the sheriff’s office, to which she applied. She’s handled all sorts of records and paperwork in the Upper Keys since. Peggy said the move to the Keys wasn’t easy, since her family resided in Colorado and Kansas.
“I wanted him to pick Kansas,” Peggy said with a laugh.
A week after Corey was offered and accepted the job in the Keys, departments in Fort Lauderdale and Kansas called to offer him a job. His choice was the Keys, however, and it’s been a memorable experience from his days as a patrol officer to a patrol lieutenant and captain. Corey has extensive specialized training courses under his belt, which include drug unit commander training in Virginia and FBI Law Enforcement Development Association classes. He’s worked under five sheriffs.
“The greatest thing about being a police officer, and I talk to Sheriff Rick Ramsay about this, is how much everybody likes us,” Corey said. “The sheriff has a great philosophy of being involved in the community and working in the community. That’s just perpetuated down to Peggy, Spenser and myself.”
In Corey’s time as captain, sheriff’s deputies have stayed proactive in the community from active aggressor training with schools and fire rescue. They’ve also worked with the village to address traffic concerns on the Old Highway. They continue the push to put no-passing zones on the road that many vehicles divert to in order to bypass congested traffic. Bryan has also worked with the village to develop a plan for the Fills in the way of barriers to deal with the activity. Traffic speeds were also reduced to 45 mph.
“That was a key thing because the Fills have become a major issue with everybody,” he said. “We knew it was a priority to get control on that. Village council did a great job to get a plan set up.”
As to what the Bryans will miss the most, Corey said it’s the many friends and people who’ve been good to them. Corey says he loves working in the village.
“It’s a great, special connection,” he said.
Enjoying the job and her staff, Peggy said, “It was never a dull moment.”
“We’ve had a great 34 years here in the Upper Keys,” she said. “It’s just time to move on.”
Corey and Peggy are especially proud of Spenser and his progression through the sheriff’s office. Corey said they never anticipated he would enter law enforcement back when he was in high school, but he was always around the deputies when they’d come over to the house for barbecues. Today, Spenser serves as the lieutenant of special investigations.
“He’s extremely smart, he understands the job, he’s got a good grasp on law enforcement and understanding people,” Corey said.
So, what’s on tap for the Bryans? Corey said they’ll be busy gardening on their Ocala property. They also plan to travel in their motorhome to visit family and attend 1800s festivals where they make and sell items for kids.
“Thank you to everybody for making this such a great career for me and a great place to live,” Corey said.
Capt. Corey Bryan and Peggy Bryan, records supervisor with the sheriff’s office, are set to retire after each serve more than 30 years. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly