Officials: Chicago officer’s death from COVID-19 will be considered on-duty
Because of that, Officer Marco DiFranco's family will be able to access financial benefits, police leaders said
CHICAGO — The first loss of a Chicago police officer linked to COVID-19 will be considered an on-duty death, police leaders said Friday, giving the officer’s family access to special financial benefits.
Interim Chicago Police Supt. Charlie Beck announced that decision at Police Headquarters during an event to thank donors whose contributions have aided officers during the outbreak.
The officer, Marco DiFranco, 50, died early Thursday at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He was assigned to the citywide narcotics unit and was hired as a Chicago cop in 1998, police said.
“And because of that his family will continue to have the protections of the Chicago Police Department," Beck said of the benefits decision. "They will not be destitute. They will be taken care of. They will continue to be a part of the CPD family,”
Beck did not say how DiFranco contracted the disease. But he said the determination of classifying DiFranco’s death as in the line of duty comes as the officer and other first responders have been tasked with working in conditions that can put them at greater risk of becoming infected than the general public.
“And I think that everybody needs to recognize that these are tough times," he continued. "And things that are unimaginable in our past are going to happen. And we need to come together as a society to protect those that protect us.”
At last report there were more than 70 Chicago police officers and two civilian department employees who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Also attending the event Friday was David Brown, the former Dallas police chief who is Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s choice to lead the 13,000-strong department after Beck’s expected departure in two weeks. Brown must be voted into the position at an upcoming City Council meeting.