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Ostrem’s history includes 28 years in law enforcement

todayMay 29, 2024 3

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This story has been updated with information from a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation report.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Jay E. Ostrem, 64, who is charged with triple murder in a May 28 incident in Centerville was both the mayor and a Turner County Deputy for several years.

Ostrem was a deputy with the Turner County Sheriff’s Office from 2007 to 2014, according to the county auditor’s office. Court documents show that Ostrem was the city’s mayor at least during part of that time.

Before joining Turner County, Ostrem was a police officer for the city of Gillette, Wyoming. Ostrem started with Gillette in July of 1982 and retired as a sergeant in December 2003, said Jennifer Toscana, the city’s director of public affairs.

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While working for Gillette, Ostrem was one of multiple officers in an officer-involved shooting in 2001 that killed a man.

The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) investigation report said the Campbell County Attorney’s Office ruled the action taken by the officers was justified. It declined to pursue criminal prosecution.

The DCI report said multiple officers responded to a report of a woman who said her husband was trying to kill her. The suspect, Michael R. Owens, threatened officers with a pickup and injured a police officer, according to the investigative report. Ostrem was one of the officers that shot at Owens who did not stop on officers’ commands. Owens shot his gun eight to 10 times, according to the DCI report. Owens died from gunshots.

Owens’ wife, Tawaynda Owens filed a lawsuit in the 2001 death.

A summary judgment in 2004 dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims that excessive force was used, and that there was inadequate supervision or inadequate training. Owens was shot about 10 times, according to the court document.

Former Turner County Sheriff Byron Nogelmeier said he couldn’t comment on whether Ostrem’s involvement in an officer-involved shooting was revealed in a background check. Nogelmeier said one reason he couldn’t not comment was because he now works for the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office. Nogelmeier is the state’s 24/7 program director.

Nogelmeier said that background checks are part of the hiring process.

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Ostrem’s time at Turner County included the investigation of the 2009 death of Deputy Chad Mechels. Mechels was shot and killed by Ethan Jones, who was sentenced to life in prison.

Centerville’s population is about 900 people and Ostrem had served as a city council member and the mayor. Ostrem was a city council member in 2008 when Rachel Kopman was hired as police chief. After being fired by the city, Kopman in 2010 filed a lawsuit accusing Ostrem and another council member of sexual harassment. It was later settled out of court. Ostrem became Centerville’s mayor in 2010.

Ostrem was employed as a Turner County Sheriff when the lawsuit was filed.

The AG’s office said Ostrem’s law enforcement certification expired in 2016.

KELOLAND News has also reached out to the South Dakota State Sheriffs’ Association with questions about background checks.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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