Southold Police chief will retire in July

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Police Chief Ty Cochran with an oil painting stolen from a Southold home but recovered after investigators arrested a suspect last month.

As he’s always done, Southold Police Chief Carlisle “Ty” Cochran will work over the Fourth of July weekend and then take a break.

A very, very long break.

Bringing an end to a police career of 33 years, the last 10 spent as the town’s top cop, Chief Cochran has put in his paperwork to retire on July 5. The Town Board approved the chief’s request during its Tuesday meeting.

He said his decision has a two-fold reason.

“It’s just time,” he said. The chief, 56, also said he’s suffering from a return bout of sarcoidosis, for which he was hospitalized last year. The disease can cause inflammation of any organ in the body. Its cause is unknown and symptoms can include shortness of breath, fatigue and fever.

“What I have is not going to kill me,” the chief said. “I’m going to be around, but I need to take care of me. I love my job, but it’s either give 100 percent or nothing. Since I can’t give 100 percent, it’s time for me to move on.”
Supervisor Scott Russell said the chief’s decision took him by surprise.

“He will be missed,” the supervisor said. “From his experience as a police officer to his experience as an active member of the Southold Fire Department, he is one of the most knowledgeable people I have had the honor of working with.”

During the public portion of Tuesday’s meeting, the board did not discuss its plans for hiring a new chief. The second in command is Captain Martin Flatley, the department’s executive officer.

Chief Cochran began his law enforcement career as a seasonal officer in 1980 and was hired full-time the following year. Rising through the ranks, he became a sergeant in 1990, a lieutenant in 1996 and chief in 2000.

The son of a Southold policeman, Chief Cochran said, “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a police officer.” His father, also named Carlisle but known as “Pep,” retired as a sergeant in 1990, shortly after his son achieved that rank.

“For a short time there were two Sgt. Cochrans,” the chief said. “I told people they appointed me so they wouldn’t have to change the name tags.”

He recalls a conversation at the start of his career with former chief Dan Winters, a family friend who passed away over the winter, that didn’t seem like much at the time.

“He asked me what I want to be in the department. I looked at him and told him I want to be chief. He said, ‘Do you think I could have it for a while?’ ”

For a time, his mother, former Supervisor Jean Cochran, was his boss. “I got past that. I survived,” he joked.

He became chief during his mother’s tenure and knows there are those who say that connection was the reason.

“But my mother never took any of the [promotion] exams for me,” he said. “A buddy at the time told me I was a B-minus chief because of the grade I got, but I think I did a pretty good job. I never knew things would be as good as they’ve been. I’ve lived a charmed life and the town has been good to me.”

Long active in the New York Association of Chiefs of Police, Chief Cochran had hoped to be its president one day. He’s currently one of the organization’s vice presidents.

“It’s just one of those things I wanted to do,” he said. “But it gets to the point where some of those things are less than important.”

The soon to be ex-chief, who is also a commissioner in the Southold Fire Department, said he’ll have no trouble keeping busy.
“I want to play golf,” he said. “I love it, even when I do bad.”

He and his wife, Joan, own a camper they’re thinking of driving to Alaska, as his parents once did.

“My wife has had a honey-do list for 37 years,” he said. “Now I can get to it.”

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