Former River Forest Police Chief Nicholas Coscino died in Glendale, Arizona on Thursday following a prolonged illness. Coscino, 74, served the police department from 1967 until September 1987. He is survived by his wife, Margaret, and an extended family.
During his 22-year retirement, Coscino served as program coordinator for the Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff’s Posse Training Academy under Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and was an Executive Posse Member. But long after he left River Forest and Chicago for Arizona, he still considered River Forest his home.
“He had a great love of River Forest and the people in it,” said George Parry, who knew Coscino well.
“He said he would always consider himself first and foremost a River Forest police officer,” said Lt. Craig Rutz, who came onto the police force under Coscino.
Coscino served on the Rolling Meadows and Elmwood Park police departments before coming to River Forest in September 1967. During his tenure, Coscino, a graduate of the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Virginia, restructured the department to create three divisions and establish a full-time, professional dispatching function. He was responsible for starting one of the first evidence technician (forensic evidence) programs outside the city of Chicago.
Coscino was also an early, active and ardent supporter of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, working to bring it back into Illinois in the 1970s, and serving as the first president of River Forest’s lodge. In that role he could play hard ball.
“Sometime in the early 70s, we were negotiating a new contract when we came to a stalemate with the village, which resulted in a 24-hour “blue flu” epidemic among the police officers in River Forest,” Coscino recalled in his self-authored bio. The strike worked, and the lodge signed its first contract with the village. Coscino said he and his colleagues never intended to leave the village unprotected. Lieutenants and sergeants manned shifts, and others were standing by.
“In reality, we had officers standing by in case something dangerous took place,” Coscino wrote. “We were ready to respond, but we didn’t tell the village administration that.”
Rutz said that for all of his support of the police union, Coscino always said he considered himself a servant of the village and its citizens, a philosophy he willingly spread to future generations of officers. Rutz recalled a visit Coscino paid the lodge in 2005, in the midst of rancorous contract negotiations and low rank and file morale.
“He spoke to them and reminded them of where their loyalties were, which was with the village’s residents,” said Rutz.