Benny Napoleon Biography, Benny Napoleon Wiki
Benny Napoleon was a well-known and well-loved Wayne County sheriff who died from COVID-19 complications after years of service in and around Detroit.
He died at the age of 65 after fighting the coronavirus for about a month on Thursday, December 17, 2020, his family told the Detroit Free Press and other news sources.
Napoleon was a Detroit native who served as a Detroit police officer for over two decades before becoming Wayne County Sheriff in 2009, according to his online profile.
Napoleon had a daughter named Tiffani Jackson, and by text message she told news sources that her father had died at Henry Ford Hospital. In the text sent to the Detroit Free Press and other publications, he thanked his congregation for their prayers and asked them to continue. He also asked the community to remember his father and his commitment as a government official.
“Remember his generosity, integrity and loyalty as a government official for over 45 years,” he said. “Remember how kindly he was to everyone he came into contact with and how much he loved his family.”
In addition to his daughter, Napoleon survived by his 84-year-old mother and his four siblings, including Highland Park Police Chief Hilton Napoleon, who was hospitalized for more than two months due to the coronavirus, the Detroit Free Press reported.
According to Wayne County Sheriff’s profile, Napoleon entered the public service as an intern at the Detroit Police Department in 1975 and entered the city’s police academy that same year. He marched at a pace in the second (Vernor) zone and rose through the ranks. He was promoted to sergeant in 1983, lieutenant in 1985, inspector in 1987, commander in 1993, assistant chief in 1994 and assistant chief in 1995. In 1998 he was appointed Police Chief by Mr. Mayor Dennis W. Archer.
He served on patrol, investigation, secret and administrative duties in the police department, retired in 2001 after 26 years of service. In 2004, he was named Wayne County Executive Assistant. Napoleon was appointed Wayne County Sheriff to fill a void in June 2009, after which he won the election in a “landslide” victory. In the following years, he was re-elected for four-year terms and received 74% of the votes for his current term. According to his profile, Napoleon was also a lawyer who had a private practice.
His profile says:
Napoleon is a lawyer with private law practice and 33rd Degree Mason is a life member of the NAACP, a Prince Hall Affiliate. An academic at heart, Sheriff enjoyed serving as an assistant professor of Criminal Justice for several years at the University of Phoenix (Detroit Campus). Community service includes spending time as a baseball coach for the Michigan Boys and Girls Clubs; A basketball coach for the Detroit Police Athletic League; A student advisor for Detroit Public Schools; and chairs the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. Napoleon was honored with too many professional and community service awards to list. She is the proud parent of a daughter who completed her Master of Arts program at the University of Michigan.
According to the Detroit Free Press, coronavirus symptoms started slowly for Napoleon and increased rapidly. He entered the test for the coronavirus that returned negative on 13 November 2020 and then took another test that tested positive on November 17. He announced that he had COVID-19 on November 19.
“Right now I have a mild headache and mild tremors,” he said in the announcement.
Jackson told the broadcast that the next day his symptoms were improving and he was hospitalized. Placed on a ventilator on November 27th. His family believed he was recovering and posted a positive update online on December 13.
Napoleon was the fourth person to die from COVID-19 complications at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, the Detroit Free Press reported. Before Napoleon’s death, the department lost a commander and two assistants. Others within the episode also became infected and survived.
Napoleon’s brother, a police officer, was also caught in a serious coronavirus case, the news release reported.
In an October interview with the newspaper, Napoleon said that people’s refusal to wear masks was “untenable”. He said the issue should not be politicized, and also said the government has the power to require people to wear masks.
The news of Napoleon’s death spread quickly on social media, spurring an outpouring of condolences from other public officials who remembered him as a friend.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel wrote on Facebook:
I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of my friend and colleague Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. I have long admired his work at the department and was honored to have an opportunity to partner with him as a colleague. Benny was beloved by so many in the Wayne County community and around the state. We enjoyed a close relationship since the time I took office, including working feverishly together last spring to bring much-needed PPE to his department to protect his deputies, who he cared so deeply for. I could always count on Benny for his support, his input and his cooperation. He was a wonderful man and his passing is a loss not only for his family but also for his many friends and co-workers. Benny had so much life yet to live; our community has once again lost someone larger than life to this vicious pandemic. My heart goes out to Benny’s family. It was an honor and a privilege to call him my sheriff.
Ralph Lloyd Godbee Jr., who was Chief of Police at Detroit Public Schools Community District, wrote about his admiration for Napoleon. He shared a photo of himself with Napoleon on Facebook.
This day was everything. Benny Napoleon was someone I idolized as a young police officer. Once I became Chief and followed in his footsteps; and he would share with me how proud he was of me; that meant the world to me. Benny left me with one piece of advice that I have always tried to utilize in leading; he’d say “Chief, take care of your people and your people will take care of you.” When Chief Benny Napoleon called me “Chief” I was beside myself. Rest well my friend; mentor and brother. Sheriff Benny N. Napoleon.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson issued a statement on his passing.
I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sheriff Napoleon, and to learn we’ve lost yet another giant of the Detroit community to coronavirus. While we mourn his passing, I am grateful for his grace, kindness and steadfast commitment to serving and protecting the citizens of Wayne County and Detroit. As his family, like far too many across the state and nation, grieve the passing of a dear loved one this season, we are again reminded of the importance of staying home, staying safe, and wearing a mask.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist wrote:
Sheriff Benny Napoleon showed me and so many others the way.
His passing is a tremendous loss for the city of Detroit, Wayne County, and the entire state of Michigan. Benny was a pillar in the community—a model public servant who lead by example through conscientious words and selfless service. All throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheriff Napoleon stood tall on the front lines alongside members of his department to ensure that our community had what it needed to get through this crisis together. He was a progressive ally and champion for changing the justice system to better serve society. And he offered himself as a mentor at every opportunity, so that young leaders, like myself, can be, believe in, and become our greatest selves. Benny’s loss hits hard in the soul of so many people in southeast Michigan who had a chance to connect with him over his decades of service, and his legacy leaves our lives better because of his presence. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest in power.
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office lowered its flag to honor Napoleon, which they described as a “heartbreaking task” done with “extreme sadness” in a statement provided to 97.9 WJLB.
While he was tough on crime, he was beloved throughout the region for his compassion, faith and deep sense of community. He was a true leader in every sense of the work, known to announce to the families of new recruits that if the families promised to take care of them at home, he’d take care of them on the job!
Sadly, he was diagnosed with Covid 19 in November and fought hard to recover. A prayer vigil led by his daughter, Tiffani Jackson, and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Corps drew widespread prayer and support from throughout the community and across the nation. Jackson says his family acknowledges the outpouring of support they’ve received, as they remember the man who everyone loved so dearly…During this difficult time, we ask that you keep Sheriff Napoleon’s family, loved ones, friends, colleagues and the WCSO in your thoughts and prayers.