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Death, deployments affect Atmore Police

By By Arthur McLean Managing Editor
When Frank "Danny" Bryars died Friday, Atmore Police Chief Jason Dean lost a friend and the department lost a reliable, 13-year veteran.
"It was so sudden," Dean said. "We going to really miss him around here. There aren't many of the old hands left around." Bryars was 55 years old.
A native of Rabun, Bryars came to the department in 1990 as a patrolman, about a year after Dean started with the department.
He served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam, and held worked for a local chemical company in Baldwin County before coming to the police department.
Starting out as a patrolman, Bryars was eventually promoted to Corporal. He suffered a heart attack last year, but he recovered quickly, Dean said. "We all thought he was doing really well," he said.
"He was a very very stable person, someone you could rely on," Dean said. "He will be sadly missed around here."
Other officers deployed
While the loss of Bryars was sudden and tragic for this department, Dean has also faced the departure of two other officers within the past year.
Patrolman Gandy deployed to Iraq in March of 2003, and a second officer was called to duty earlier this month.
The police department's full compliment of 28 sworn officers is now down to 25, to police a jurisdiction of about 10,000 people.
By law, those officers serving must be allowed to return to their jobs once they return from active duty. They could be away as long as two years.
"It's been kind of a burden," Dean said. "Luckily, we were at full staff before all this happened, so we've been able to work around it. Those positions will remain open for now, but if things change, we may have to make arrangements, but it's hard to find someone who's willing to serve for just a year or two."
So far, patrolmen and officers have pitched in, arranging schedules, and reorganizing vacations to fill in the gaps, but the department is also closely watching overtime, Dean said. "Overtime can kill your budget in a hurry, so we're doing what we can."
"I think right now, we're holding our own and doing pretty well."