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Third CPD officer dies of COVID-19; decorated veteran ‘never shied away from the difficult assignment’

Officer Ronald Newman was assigned to the South Chicago District on the South Side, the department said. He joined the CPD 19 years ago.

A Chicago Police Department emblem File photo

A third Chicago Police officer has died of COVID-19, the department announced Friday.

Officer Ronald Newman, a 19-year department veteran who was “a fixture” of the South Chicago District, died Friday morning from complications of the virus, acting Police Supt. David Brown said.

Newman, 59, is survived by his widow, son and stepdaughter, Brown said. Newman’s wife is a civilian employee in the department’s Office of Community Policing.

Newman earned 137 departmental awards during his career, Brown said, including two commendations and 118 honorable mentions.

Brown said he spoke with both Newman’s widow and his partner after the officer’s death.

Newman’s partner, Brown said, remembered him as “a private man, but those who took the time to know him were rewarded with a friendship that was enduring, dedicated and loyal. Officer Newman never shied away from the difficult assignment. He worked a tough neighborhood and would quickly respond to officers calling for backup.”

Newman’s last day at work was March 22. He was admitted to a hospital four days later.

An autopsy released Friday revealed Newman died respiratory distress from a COVID-19 infection, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. Newman, who lived in Ashburn on the Southwest Side, died 1:45 a.m. Friday at Little Company of Mary Hospital.

“Today, the Fraternal Order of Police lost a valued member of the organization,” said Kevin Graham, president of the Chicago FOP, the union representing rank-and-file officers. “The police department lost a valued police officer, and our society has lost someone that can just never be replaced.”

Last week, Sgt. Cliff Martin, a 25-year department veteran assigned to the Bureau of Detectives, succumbed to the coronavirus.

Martin, 56, began showing symptoms March 20 and went on sick leave two days later, interim Supt. Charlie Beck said at the time. Martin was hospitalized for two weeks at the University of Chicago Medical Center before dying April 10.

Martin’s death followed that of narcotics officer Marco DiFranco, who died of COVID-19 on April 2. DiFranco, 50, had been with the department since 1998 and was based in the Homan Square facility.

As of Thursday evening, 276 CPD officers and 12 civilian employees had tested positive for the virus through the department’s medical section.