Interim Chicago Police Supt. Charlie Beck announced Friday the coronavirus-related death of veteran Officer Marco DiFranco will be considered a line-of-duty death, ensuring DiFranco’s widow and two children will receive honors and benefits.
“When faced with tragedy, you have to look it straight in the eye,” Beck said during a Friday morning news conference a day after DiFranco’s death. “The mayor and I did that, and we recognized that our first responders, by their very nature, place themselves at risk every day.
“And we determined that Marco DiFranco’s death was line-of-duty, and, because of that, his family will continue to have the protections of the Chicago Police Department. They will not be destitute. They will be taken care of.”
DiFranco, who died early Thursday, was the first CPD officer and second city of Chicago employee to die of COVID-19.
The undercover narcotics officer — whose brother works in the same CPD division — had been with the department since 1998. Friends and colleagues remembered DiFranco as a dedicated officer who, over the course of his career, had earned more than 150 departmental awards.
As of Thursday, 74 Chicago police officers and two civilian employees of the department had tested positive for the virus.
Beck said Friday 7.2% of the nearly 14,000-person department had called in sick to work — though the rate was down slightly from the day before. The superintendent stressed the department’s sick rate was something he’s closely monitoring.
“I don’t have those numbers written down; they’re ingrained in my soul,” Beck said. “These are tough times, and we’re doing everything we can to protect our folks.”