DETROIT. - Benny Napoleon’s bright smile greeted everyone as they walked into the Swanson Funeral Home on Monday.
"That smile says it all," said Detroit Police Captain, Conway Petty. "When you see that picture, that’s what everybody remembers."
The community gathered at the funeral home Monday to say their final goodbyes to the Wayne County Sheriff after he lost a tough battle with COVID-19.
"We are very sad by this loss because I don’t know if we’ll have another Benny Napoleon," said friend Bishop Cheryl Myhand.
"I realize that is just his vessel, but the spirit of Benny Napoleon is going to live on in this city," said friend Stephen Grady.
Napoleon contracted the virus back in Nov. Then, was put on a ventilator. Sadly, he passed away in Dec. at the age of 65.
"I think about the fight that he put up with for all those weeks in the hospital and the ups and downs that he put up with and the struggle that he put up with, and now I find joy knowing that’s all over and that he’s not suffering," said Napoleon’s daughter Tiffany Jackson. "He doesn’t have to fight every minute of every day anymore."
Napoleon was born and raised in Detroit, and today strangers paid their respects for the humble man simply known as "Benny."
"He dedicated his whole life for the police department and the sheriff’s department and all he did for his neighborhood," said Detroiter Carla Maddox.
The crowd also came along with friends who have known Benny since his high school days at Cass Tech.
"Benny, he was like a hero to me," Grady said. "He was just a year older than me, but he was huge."
His impact was even greater. Napoleon spent most of his career at the Detroit Police Department, and became chief before becoming a Wayne County Assistant Executive and then Sheriff in 2009.
"He loved his family and he loved his community," said WCSO Chief of Staff, Michael Turner. "He hated politics, he did."
But, why? Turner said he had a hard time saying "no".
"When we would walk in the jails, even the criminals were like ‘hey Benny’," Turner said.
Napoleon was known as a true public servant - caring but tough on crime. He was a friend to his city and its people. He will be greatly missed, but never, ever forgotten.
"Job well done in every aspect," Jackson said. "Not just professionally and in his career, but as a father. Job well done."
The public visitation for Napoleon continues Tuesday at Greater Grace Temple, from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. Greater Grace Temple is located at 23500 West Seven Mile in Detroit.
A private funeral will be held later this week.