Detroit mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon speaks with the news media after casting his vote on Election Day November 5, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Detroit mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon speaks with the news media after casting his vote on Election Day November 5, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

After more than 45 years of public service, Napoleon lost his life just weeks after announcing he has the coronavirus.

DETROIT—Benny Napoleon has been a household name for southeastern Michiganders for decades. Whether you resided in Wayne County or a neighboring city, most residents knew of the longtime Wayne County sheriff and former Detroit police chief.

Napoleon, 65, dedicated his life to service, giving back to the community that raised him for decades. He became sheriff of Michigan’s second-largest county in 2009, but served on the Detroit police force for more than 25 years, serving as police chief for his final three years with the DPD.

Before returning to law enforcement, Napoleon saw another opportunity to give back to his city and made a run for Detroit’s mayoral seat. He lost to Mike Duggan.

On Nov. 19, Napoleon publicly announced that he’d tested positive for COVID-19. He was admitted the following day, and died Thursday, Dec. 17 after spending weeks in the hospital.

“I cannot think of a leader in this town who has been more loved and admired than Benny,” Duggan said. “He was born in the city, served our community courageously his entire adult life, and loved Detroit as much as anyone I’ve ever known.”

Napoleon’s brother, Hilton Napoleon, survived COVID-19 after more than two months in a hospital. 

His daughter, Tiffani Jackson, said that family was present in her father’s final moments.

“Remember his generosity, integrity and faithfulness as a public servant for over 45 years,” his daughter said.

Law enforcement, Michiganders, and supporters from all over took to social media to mourn the public servant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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