Sheriff Wendell Beam said the monument has two names, but “that is two names too many.”
Beam worked with both those on the monument, Sheriff James “Dee” Stewart and Cpl. James Tarver. He read from the law enforcement code of ethics:
“As a Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all men to liberty, equality and justice.”
Both of these men, Beam said, “Cpl, James ‘Jim’ Tarver and Sheriff James ‘Dee’ Stewart did just that. They died in a tragic manner, but the set the standard for all law enforcement to live by.”
Tarver joined the Sheriff’s Office in the ‘70s, Beam said. “I was his sergeant. He was well respected, very professional.”
Beam said he and Tarver had talked the night before the accident. “He would work Christmas eve and I would work Christmas. I could have just as well been me out there.”
Griffin Police Lt. Morris Pike remembered that Christmas eve as well. He was a deputy then, working that night. “That was my call,” Pike said. “I had just been approved for dinner break when the call came, Cpl. Tarver said go, he would take it.”
Beam said Stewart was with Griffin Police Department when he was first started at the Sheriff’s Department. and they worked calls together. “We would look after each other.” Beam said “one important thing about Dee, he always showed me respect.”
Stewart died, July 3, 2011, succumbing to injuries from a June 23, 2011, traffic accident at the intersection of Moose Lodge Road and Georgia Highway 3. Tarver died Dec. 24, 1980, also in a traffic accident,
Beam presented flowers to families of Stewart and Tarver after the monument was unveiled by the Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard.
The monument, he said “is dedicated to the men who gave their lives in service to the citizens of Spalding County. “I know if there ever are any more names added, they will be proud to be next to Sheriff Dee Stewart and Cpl. Jim Tarver.
Beam also thanked Conner-Westbury Funeral Home “for everything they have done. They made this possible, they donated this monument here. They’ve supported the Sheriff’s Office for so many years.”
He also thanked everyone who turned out for the ceremony including the Southside Riders. “without community support, law enforcement won’t work. We have a lot of that support in Spalding County.”