Michigan Civil Rights Commission and Michigan Department of Civil Rights Mark the Passing of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon

Contact: Vicki Levengood levengoodv@michigan.gov

December 18, 2020

Lansing, MI—Stacie Clayton, Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission has issued the following statement on the passing of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, on behalf of the Commission.

“I, along with so many, many people, went to sleep with a heavy heart and awakened feeling the same. The death of Benny Napoleon is a tremendous loss.  He will always be a favorite son of Detroit who dedicated his adult life to unwavering service to its people. I had the pleasure to serve with him in the Archer Administration and continued to work with him in some capacity over the years. Benny's ability to greet everyone with that smile and make an immediate connection was genuine. Throughout his years in law enforcement, rising through the ranks to the top of the Detroit Police Department and then as Wayne County Sheriff, Benny maintained his humor, his humility, and his ability to touch the lives of the people who served with him, as well as the people they served.  His public service went beyond law enforcement.  Benny was appointed to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission in 1984, at the age of 29, and went on to chair the Commission from 1988 to 1990.  Benny's legacy of fairness and civility continues with the Commission today.  His strength and guidance will remain with us all during these trying times and beyond. May he rest in power and peace.”

James E. White, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, also issued the following statement on Napoleon’s passing.

“Benny Napoleon was one of the top law enforcement officers this state has ever produced. I grieve today for the irreplaceable leader that we have lost, and I also grieve for the friend that Benny Napoleon was to me. He was the kind of leader who paved the way for others to follow and made you want to rise through the ranks as well. When I earned my first promotion and became Sergeant, it was Benny who promoted me. He remained my mentor and my friend through every position I held and was the one person I knew I could call upon when I faced rough times and needed wise counsel. He was always about his people – his people on the force and his people in the community. He told me often, ‘Take care of your people and your people will take care of you.’ Thank you, Benny for allowing me to grow in your shadow. You will be sorely missed.”

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.

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