10th top cop always had ‘a passion for police work’



Deputy Inspector Elisa Cokkinos is no stranger to the 10th Precinct, where she assumed command on Jan. 4. In 1997 she was a sergeant in the precinct, which covers Chelsea and part of Clinton up to 43rd St. west of Eighth Ave.

“It’s changed, the clubs were not as big as they are now. There are a lot of new things and I’m excited to be back,” she told a visitor last week.

Coming to a precinct with two major New York City Housing Authority projects — the Robert Fulton and the Elliott-Chelsea houses — Cokkinos is also in familiar territory.

“I came here from P.S.A. 6, the housing police command in Northern Manhattan,” she said. As a housing police captain she had occasion to meet Phyllis Gonzalez, president of the Elliott-Chelsea Tenants Association, and Miguel Acevedo, president of the Elliott-Chelsea tenants group.

In January and February, Cokkinos had meetings with club operators. All of the owners showed up.

“We told them what we expected — making sure not to serve underage patrons, preventing dangerous people from frequenting their clubs, keeping drugs out and letting us know about any problems that come up,” she said.

Cokkinos said club owners seemed to understand the need to be part of the community.

“I’ve been having dialogues with all facets of the community and I believe it really is one community here,” the commanding officer said. “Public housing, the clubs, the gay population — it doesn’t seem to me to be splintered. We have a long and close relationship with the schools, principals and teachers. Kids will be kids, but I don’t see any unusual problems there. Residents of NYCHA of course look first to P.S.A. 4 [the local housing police] — but they know we are here for them, too.”

Raised in Queens, where her father had a liquor store, and on Long Island, Cokkinos wanted to be a policewoman from an early age.

“An uncle was a police officer, a transit cop,” she noted. “That might have started it. But mostly I’ve had a passion for police work.”

But there was a hiring freeze for many years, so she went to work for Frito-Lay driving a truck on a Brooklyn route until she was 26. Then in 1990, a class opened up at the Police Academy. Her first assignment was in the 110th Precinct, in Astoria.

From Queens, she volunteered for narcotics duty and was assigned to Manhattan South Narcotics — which covers the island from the Battery up to 59th St. The posting involved undercover investigation and street-level buy-and-busts.

“It was interesting work,” she recalled. “I made detective and I was promoted to sergeant in 1997 when I was transferred here to the 10th Precinct.”

Cokkinos acknowledged that choosing the narcotics unit was partly a calculated career move and partly a desire to serve where she thought she was needed.

After her first stint at the 10th Precinct, she went back to narcotics work where she served four more years and was promoted to lieutenant. It seems like heavy duty for a slender, 5-foot-5-inch woman, but Cokkinos laughs and shrugs off the observation.

She also served in the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side.

“It’s supposed to be the richest zip code in the nation,” she noted.

Cokkinos made captain in June 2005 and served as executive officer of the 20th Precinct on the Upper West Side between 59th and 86th Sts. for a year. She next went to the Manhattan North Borough Command, where there were a lot of drugs, guns and some violence.

“All that interesting stuff,” she quipped.

Cokkinos will have served 20 years in the N.Y.P.D. in October and sees no reason to retire.

“This is a great assignment for me,” she said. “I have wonderful support and this is where I want to be and where I should be.”