CHICAGO — The first Chicago Police Department officer to die from complications of COVID-19 was remembered Thursday with a private burial service.
Marco Di Franco, 50, was a 21-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department and worked on the narcotics team.
Di Franco contracted the virus at the end of March and spent a weekend in the hospital before he died.
His death is officially recognized as “in the line of duty.”
Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck spoke outside the service and tried to channel the strange and singular experience of holding a police officer’s funeral during a pandemic.
“The sadness is compounded by our inability to give him the kind of send-off that is typical for a Chicago police officer whose life is taken in the line of duty,” he said.
Di Franco’s death underscores the dangers of being a hands-on first responder.
“People who can’t stay home, who can’t shelter in place, that have to go to places where quite frankly, most of us would not go,” Beck said.
Just 10 members of Difranco’s family were allowed inside of this chapel, all tested negative for COVID-19.
“It is a very sad day for the city of Chicago,” Beck said. “A very sad day for the police department. Normally we would have a gigantic outpouring of support for the family. There’s be thousands of police officers and firefighters here. And we just can’t do that today. We just can’t do that.”
Squad cars lined the streets, each one with one officer inside to comply with social distance.
DiFranco joined the department in May of 1998 and was noted for his bravery and courage, earning more than 150 awards from the department. He is survived by his wife, and two children, a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old.
His brother is also a member of the police force.
DiFranco was laid to rest at All Saints Cemetery.
“We’re doing our absolute best to recognize his sacrifice,” Beck said. “ And the daily sacrifices of first responders and health care workers during this time of pandemic. It just makes it very difficult. Very difficult.”
So far, more than 70 Chicago officers have tested positive for the virus.