Sheriff Benny-Napoleon-Obituary

Photo courtesy of Swanson Funeral Home- East

Sheriff Benny Napoleon

Sep 10, 1955 - Dec 17, 2020 (Age 65)

Guest Book

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My condolences to Tiffani, Sharon and Mr. Napoleon's entire family. Not many people will leave a legacy when they transition. We are fortunate to have shared fond experiences with this Detroit Legend. Rest well and job well done.

Rest In Peace

This touch everyone to he you were gone you was the life to a lot of lives you were the truth you told it like was and turns a lot of people like myself that not all cops are bad you was the best I cried when I saw that you was gone I was hurt but most of all I was selfish because I did not want to see you go who's gonna take care are people now is what I was thinking fly high King you will truly be missed

I would like to say that the city of Detroit has truly lost a champion of justice and an advocate of the youth. May Benny rest in Power.

Condolences to Tiffani, and the Family. Benny contributed so much to the community. He will truly be missed. May he rest in Complete and Total Peace. Blessings, Strength & Prayers
Paula Hunt

May the pure love and blessings of God cover you, your family and love ones. Rest well my friend, you were a light in the darkness.

Former Undersheriff,
Melvin E. Turner

My condolences to Tiffani and the family. God's Blessing be with all of you.



Sheriff Benny's Obituary





Carlos Dennis Brian Rinehart Rico Williams Mike Jaafar 

Robert Dunlap Conway Petty Todd Bettison Ray Washington 

Benny Celson NAPOLEON, J.D. 




Elmwood Cemetery 1200 Elmwood, Detroit, Michigan 

SEPTEMBER 10, 1955 - DECEMBER 17, 2020 


Swanson Funeral Home, Inc.

14751 W. McNichols • Detroit, MI 48235 (313) 272-9000

806 E. Grand Blvd. Detroit, MI 48207 (313) 923-1122 


Service to be held Wednesday, December 30, 202

11:00 AM 

ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF APPRECIATION The family of the late Benny Nelson Napoleon acknowledges, with sincere appreciation, the many comforting messages, floral tributes and other expressions of kindness evidenced at this time in thought and deeds. 

Greater Emmanuel Institutional C.O.G.I.C. 19190 Schaefer Highway • Detroit, Michigan 48235 

Bishop J. Drew Sheard, Pastor 

Pastor Welton Smith IV, Officiating, New Life Family Church 

R&L Color Graphics Printing, Inc. (313) 345-3838 ©2020 


                                   THE OBITUARY 


Organ Prelude 

Benny Nelson Napoleon was born on September 10, 1955 to Rev. Harry and Betty Napoleon (Rev. Napoleon preceded him in death). Benny and his siblings were raised in the family home on Seyburn, where Rev. Napoleon began his ministry later christened Tennessee Missionary Baptist Church. A confirmed “PK” Benny fully embraced his faith and was baptized at the young age of 11. 


Old Testament Scripture Reading .. 

......Pastor Homer Jamison Jamison Temple Baptist Church 

Benny excelled in Detroit Public Schools and turns out he was also athletic. "Skinny Benny” ran cross country and played Little League baseball with his big brother Hilton. Yet basketball ultimately became his passion. Teenage "Thin Ben”, as he later preferred to be called, played Guard for Cass Technical High School, even advancing to a championship final at Cobo Hall in 1972. 

New Testament Scripture Reading......... 

Pastor Synoise Clemons House of Faith Church 

Prayer ......  Pastor Tellis J. Chapman Galilee Missionary Baptist Church 

While selling shoes at Sibley's after graduation in 1973, the ever-dapper Benny encountered one of Coleman Young's mobile recruiting vans for the Detroit Police Department. He filled out an application, but didn't follow through until a recruiter tracked him down six months later. He graduated from the Academy in ‘75 and meticulously rose through the ranks enjoying a career marked by several nationally-renowned accomplishments including: supervising the investigation that prosecuted those who attacked international figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan; apprehending 10 escapees from the Ryan Correctional Facility; and reducing violent crime in Detroit by 30% as Chief of Detroit Police. 

Solo ........ Tiffani M. Jackson

Acknowledgment of Resolutions .......Paula Bridges 


Remarks ........ 




While those accolades stand out in his lengthy 45-year career, none figures so prominently as the “Drama on Dresden" where an agile Inspector Napoleon was seen sprinting, cradling a baby he rescued, during an incident where a barricaded gunman fired over 1,500 rounds at officers. That image immortalized in print was seen nationwide! 

...Governor Gretchen Whitmer Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans 

Mayor Mike Duggan 

Chief James Craig, Undersheriff Dan Pfannees. 

Kwame Finn, Tiffani C. Jackson 

With dogged determination he pursued a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Mercy College of Detroit and a Juris Doctor Degree from Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University. He completed some 56 courses of specialized training over his career including Secret Service Dignitary Protection and Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. His honors and awards are too numerous to count. Like many heroes, he simultaneously fought crime, represented clients in court, served as Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and coached PAL basketball and baseball for the Boys and Girls Club. But, nothing compared to what he considered his most important role, father of his beloved daughter Tiffani Chanel. 

Solo........................ Pastor Maurice Jackson New Generation Church 

Obituary ..Paula Bridges 

Eulogy ...................Dr. Alvin E. Jackson, Sr Wings of Love Ministries 

Benny was amazingly devoted to his "Tiff.” Rarely seen apart, he often said “if Tiff can't go, I ain't going!” Together, Benny and Tiffani experienced his world of local and national icons; civic leaders, and a multitude of entertainers, presidents, and even Nelson Mandela. Benny and Tiff racked up millions of frequent flyer miles traveling the globe together, time he treasured especially after retiring from DPD in 2001. 

Recessional ....... JaTonya Mitchell 

He worked the next decade in the private sector as Vice President of a real estate investment firm before serving as Assistant Wayne County Executive. He also taught Criminal Justice at the University of Phoenix eagerly grooming the next wave of law enforcement professionals. Throughout all of 

"Truly I tell you, Inasmuch as ve have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, 

I've have done it unto me." - Matthew 25.

his experiences he remained gracious to everyone he encountered, frequently saying “just call me Benny.” They in turn considered him to be kind, compassionate, giving, loyal, humble, highly skilled and a man who always kept his word. 

Benny achieved his final, greatest role as leader when he was appointed Wayne County Sheriff in 2009 and enjoyed landslide elections in 2010 (partial term), 2012, 2016 and again in 2020. As Sheriff, he streamlined operations, revised methods of confinement saving taxpayers millions and catapulted the issue of mental health care and incarceration into the local and national conversation. His input into the Wayne County Criminal Justice Complex currently under construction will culminate in a safer, more effective combined campus for personnel and citizens. 

With all this work, there had to be room for play for Detroit's most-beloved crime fighter. Over the years he and Tiff visited Disney World often and he even took a Grand Prix race car for a spin. But in recent years he has indulged his newest pastimes-never-ending home renovations and playing golf! He enjoyed discovering courses nationwide and even attended the Masters in Augusta. Though he was laser-focused on reducing his score, Benny enjoyed the camaraderie with golf buddies far more than a great round. 

When God created our brother he made him proud and wise. 

He put the light of truth and understanding in his eyes. He formed him in His image, heart faithful, smile bright 

his skin a shade of evening as it passes into night. He gave him sturdy arms for lifting children in the air and knees 

that weren't afraid to bend in work or play or prayer. He planned him with a passion for the role of brotherhood, 

and when the Lord was finished, He was sure that it was good. With gratitude for the values you taught, the encouragement you gave, 

the dreams you believed, the legacy of love you passed along, with thankfulness for the God-giving blessing you were to this family. 

Love, Your Siblings 

You can say Benny obsessed over DIY projects at home. Yes, he loved golf. But nothing compared to the time he cherished with his family, his daughter and treasured grandson Malachi. Benny was Malachi's biggest fan. He traveled near and far to watch Malachi play basketball, never missing an opportunity to be courtside. Family was first for Benny. Even as he pursued his career opportunities, 

for Mayor, you always saw them and his beloved Sharon by his side 

That family devotion was nearly matched by his deep commitment to the community of faith. He 

visit a church or house of worship, donate to their programs and help promote faith-based initiatives - his support was inter-denominational. As Sheriff he greatly expanded the Chaplain Corps understanding the vital role faith leaders play in our neighborhoods. 

Sadly, several weeks after he was diagnosed with Covid-19 in November, Benny received his wings. He fought valiantly given the tremendous care he received from the doctors and nurses constantly watching over him. His sunset commenced on December 17, 2020 with Tiffani and his family near his side. 

You were a pillar of strength to our family; you loved us all as if we were your own. You stepped up when others walked away; that's just who you were. For many of us, you were our inspiration to be better and reach higher. You always dreamed big and shared those dreams with us. You were an inspiration because you through you, we saw that those dreams could become a reality. You didn't do anything to lift yourself up, but to lift up others. That's your legacy to us. You will forever be missed and loved by your Nieces and Nephews 

................................................................... As a believer, I know death will come and come abruptly. As a believer, I know goodbyes are not forever. As a believer, I know He blesses those that mourn. As a believer, I know we will meet again. As a son-in-law, who was never treated as such, I'm truly hurt and saddened because the memories we shared have left an imprint that makes it hard to move on but encourages me to keep going. You were always willing to lend a helping hand. Not many fathers-in-law would do all you've done and that's something I'm grateful for. I will miss our morning conversations waiting for Tiffani and Malachi to wake up, the gems you dropped, the knowledge you passed along and the love shared let's me know that Benny Napoleon is a model of rectitude. I love you and as I stated in the beginning I know I will see you again. - Alvin 

He leaves to cherish his memory: his "favorite little girl in the whole wide world," Tiffani; son-in law, Alvin Jr., grandson, Malachi; his best girl and loving mother, Betty Napoleon. His six siblings, Dr. Geneva Smitherman, Anita Napoleon, Hilton (Tempie) Napoleon, Kathryn (Sam) Napoleon Brogdon, Freddie (Beverly) Currie and Sharon (Dale) Seaton (his sister, Bobby White preceded him in death). His god-brother, Clarence (Robin) Nixon; 11 nieces and nephews: Milburn (Towana), Mashana (Christopher), David, Alana (Brian), Teena, Hilton II (Xiomara), Kofi, Dennie, Melissa (Justin), Sharron (Artwain); one nephew who he raised as his son, Kwame; his love, Sharon Heath and a host of great-nieces and nephews, uncles, cousins, friends and supporters. CASS TECH MADE 

Choed Ben R 

A mother's love for her child never ends; it grows and grows and never stops, even after death. I will always love and miss you. 


I just wish that I could see and talk to you one more time, but I know that you're in a better place now. See you later Papa. 

Love your favorite hooper, Malachi 

Daddy My days are empty and my nights are cold, now 

that God has called you home. Everyday there is a whirlwind of emotions caused by the death of my best friend. Your love, loyalty, unwavering support, dedication, protection, provision and sense of humor were unmatched. You showed me a love like no other. My only desire has been to make you proud; to make bearing the title of being my father something that you wore on your chest like a badge of honor and I am confident that I've done just that. Rest well daddy, resting assured that you've prepared me for this moment. You've instilled integrity, perseverance, empathy and tenacity deep down on the inside of me. I'm woven together with faith, self-respect and dignity. Every time I'm faced with a difficult decision, I'll ask myself, "What would daddy do?" and I know I'll never fail. I love you with every fiber of my being. 

Love, Tiff 

Benny You were just the BEST life had to offer and being your “other half" was a blessing! My life was enhanced beyond measure and I owe that to you. I will always cherish the years of memories we made, fondly remembering the first time you said, “Do you feel lucky?" while that meant "Get ready for a challenge," to answer your question... I always felt like the luckiest woman in the world during our time together! You made sure I knew that you loved me and those feelings will live in my heart forever. You will always remain my one and only love. - Sharon 






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