Many gather to say final goodbyes to Wayne County Sheriff, Benny Napoleon

"Some men come into our lives to make a lasting impression on our hearts," said Paula Bridges with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. "They show us how to live life to the fullest, and make a difference in the world around them. He was one of those men."

Wednesday’s ceremony came along with reading letters from across the state and country about the impact that Wayne County Sheriff, Benny Napoleon, had on so many lives. 

It was a private service at Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ in Detroit, that was streamed live online for others experience and say their goodbyes. 

"People go their whole lives and not get to meet their hero, I was blessed to grow up in the same household as mine," said Napoleon’s nephew, Kwame Finn. 

Napoleon died in early Dec. after a tough battle with COVID-19. He was 65, and leaves an empty space in so many hearts. 

"I pray that our friend, Benny Napoleon, will rest in peace, with full knowledge that his loved ones have the support of so many," said Wayne County’s Undersheriff, Dan Pfannes. 

Members across Detroit and Michigan paid their respects to a man known as humble, courageous and respectful - with a rare ability to connect with everyone he met. 

"Benny was someone who was not just a colleague, but a friend," said Detroit Police Chief, James Craig. "A mentor to many, a man of integrity, a public servant, a courageous leader and someone who regarded as one of Detroit’s favorite sons."

Many, remember his bright smile. 

"He remained gracious to everyone he encountered, frequently saying just call me Benny," said Napoleon’s daughter, Tiffani Jackson. 

Napoleon also had a passion for giving back. During his 45-year career, despite his firm leadership, he never took himself too seriously. 

During Napoleon’s final ceremony, flags were lowered to half-staff, to show love and support for his family and colleagues. 

"Thank you Benny Napoleon, for being in my life," Pfannes said.