For the third and “final” time John Tarver has returned to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. He brings with him 39 years of experience in law enforcement. Over the course of his career he has worked at the Bridge City and West Orange Police Departments. 

Debby Schamber – For The Record

Third time is the charm

For the third and “final” time John Tarver has returned to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. He brings with him 39 years of experience in law enforcement.

“I have had a wonderful career,” Tarver said. “The Lord has blessed me with this opportunity through the good and the bad.”

Tarver returned Monday and immediately began learning the new technology since it has changed during his absence. The updated system will enable him to keep tabs on the happenings at the OCSO by simply logging into the system. Sitting on his desk was a notebook filled with pages of information to be learned along with a different and much smaller computer. The updated system will enable him to keep tabs on the happenings at the OCSO by simply logging into the system anywhere.

“I am jumping in by re-learning the technical aspect,” Tarver said.

Ever since Tarver was a young boy, he knew he wanted to go into law enforcement. He also knew someday he would want to “lead and guide” by being in administration.

But, first things first.  He started at the Orange County jail as a jailer in 1977. At the time Ed Parker was the sheriff. Tarver stayed there for about a year before moving on to the Bridge City Police Department and into patrol.

After some time in Bridge City he returned to the OCSO. Sheriff James Wade made him chief deputy. This was the first time he would become a chief deputy. Wade drew unwanted attention to the sheriff’s office when he was arrested on drug charges. But, the fall of the administration would not keep this rising star from reaching the top.  Tarver left there and went back to the BCPD where he was appointed to the position of police chief.

Tarver remained in Bridge City for more than eight years before going once again to the OCSO. This time he worked with Sheriff Mike White. For the second time in his career he worked as the chief deputy. Tarver retired in 2006 with 30 years of service in law enforcement.

Tarver took a much needed break from his career. He completed his “honey do” list and after six months knew there was something missing. After all, he thought 50 years old was too young to be considered a retiree. So, Tarver decided to go back to his roots in 2006 and become a patrolman at the West Orange Police Department. He could work his shift and then just go home and relax.

“It gave me a real spark,” he said.

For Tarver, being a patrolman was a real “eye opener.” He figured out why he got into the police “business” which was to help people. But, it wasn’t always going to be as simple. With Tarver’s abilities and dedication to the profession, he was promoted and became a detective.

“As a patrolman, at the end of the day you go home and you are done,” Tarver said. “When you are a detective, you may go home at the end of the day, but your cases go with you.”

Tarver remained at WOPD for more than nine years before returning to the OCSO one more time. This time he is under Sheriff Keith Merritt.

“I suspect this will be the last time,” he said.

Over the course of his career, Tarver has seen a lot of changes. Mostly it has been the technology. The faculty at the OCSO has changed too over the years as staff members have come and gone. However, Tarver has seen some familiar faces too. Under the White administration, there were 134 employees. There has been a slight growth with now about 145 employees.

“The greatest resource is the employees,” Tarver said.

Tarver refers to the familiar faces as the “experienced ones.” He said he will lean on the experienced persons along with the captains and lieutenants of each division for support as he learns the new system in place.

Tarver began by touring the facilities including the jail. For the most part the administration building is in good shape, but the jail has began to show signs of wear and tear as the structure ages.

“I have not come here to make changes, but to be an enhancer,” Tarver said.

His wife, Dena, supports her husband in his career choices. According to John Tarver, his wife’s only comment was to ask if he was sure. After 25 years of marriage, they share 14 grandchildren.

“She is easy to be married to,” he said with a twinkle in his eye and a warm smile.