By Charlie De Mar, Samah Assad
CHICAGO (CBS) — A total of 74 Chicago Police officers and two civilian employees have been infected with the coronavirus, and one 21-year veteran officer who was a husband and father has now died.
Now, several police staff are asking, are they safe? CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar had an exclusive look inside police districts Thursday night.
The two civilian employees who tested positive might not be on the front lines, but they still have constant interactions with patrol officers at Public Safety Headquarters at 35th Street and Michigan Avenue, and some say not enough is being done to protect them.
The second-floor lunch room at Public Safety Headquarters was filled last week – with pictures showing employees sitting shoulder to shoulder, all despite social distancing guidelines.
“Everyone can mingle as they did six months ago,” said a concerned CPD employee who works in records.
The employee said she feels unsafe going to work.
She also took pictures of co-workers congregating at cubicles, and she is in constant contact with patrol officers who come into headquarters.
And that is why she is worried.
“I don’t know who came to work yesterday; who had a family member who tested positive and they don’t know it, and they are sitting there,” the employee said.
Earlier Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Interim Chicago Police Supt. Charlie Beck announced that the virus had killed veteran Narcotics Officer Marco DiFranco, who worked out of Homan Square on the city’s West Side.
DiFranco was 50.
Meanwhile, the records employee said she has preexisting risk factors for her health.
“I have bronchitis, upper respiratory issues. I have auto-immune diseases,” she said, “so I am at high risk.”
The records employee also asked to hide her identity. She has not been working for two weeks and is forced to burn her paid time off.
“Starting next week, I will be going into a no pay status,” she said. “I don’t have any other means of support.”
She questions why her section of records is deemed essential and must stay open.
“Let my coworkers go home that are forced to be with the public,” she said. “We are civilians. There are others means for the public to get what they need.”
Four other CPD civilian workers also told CBS 2 they feel unprotected in the office.
Mayor Lightfoot denied claims that patrol officers still don’t have what they need.
“The notion that we were weren’t prepared is a) wrong, and b) that we have somehow short shifted our police officers flies in the face of the reality,” Lightfoot said.
But the records employee repeated, “We are not protected at all.”