Osterman goes full circle: Sheriff’s sergeant leaves Newport for Lake Elmo
Sgt. Larry Osterman of the Washington County Sheriff's Office guided Newport's transition from having its own police department to contracting with the sheriff's office.
Now Osterman is headed to Lake Elmo.
Osterman spent much of his early career in Lake Elmo, a city he said he "liked everything about."
"It's hard to put into words," he said. "You just want to go back there."
Working in Newport was very different than serving in Lake Elmo, but Osterman said he enjoyed his time there.
"I wouldn't have asked for a transfer if Lake Elmo hadn't opened up," Osterman said.
He said he connected with the people he worked with, not only the officers but also the city staff, council members and residents.
"I originally started in a small town about that size in '85, I thought, 'Man, it's like I'm back where I started,'" he said.
While Osterman started at a contentious time in Newport policing history — with the department disbanding amid the discovery of problems with police evidence storage — he said he thought overall things went smoothly.
Osterman admits, though, that when he found out he was going there to conduct an evidence room audit his first thought was "Oh, no."
"As we moved forward with that, everything just got better," he said. "Relationships built, trust built, rumors got put aside ... It's gotten progressively better. In my opinion now it's running great."
Not only does he think operations have smoothed out, he feels he's reached his goal of helping the officers who switched from the Newport Police Department to the sheriff's office to end up in the positions they wanted.
"I asked the guys, 'Where do you want to go?'" he said. "That's part of our job, is to help the guys reach their goal."
Osterman praised a few who have stepped up, including Scott Freemyer, who moved into the water parks and trails division, and Tyler Martin and Dave Crist, who have become part of the county's SWAT team.
"The guys, after they saw what was ahead of them versus what was behind them, I think they would tell you they were happy," Osterman said.
Osterman's replacement is set to be Bill Harrell, who will be promoted Feb. 19. Osterman will leave April 2 for Lake Elmo.
"What we're like is very similar; I'm much better looking," Osterman joked at the Feb. 2 city council meeting.
Mayor Dan Lund, who voted for the contract in 2015, expressed his thanks for Osterman's service.
"We definitely appreciate your work guiding us through a somewhat rocky transition, and it'll certainly be a shame to see you go," Lund said.