Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon battles COVID-19, family supports him at vigil

by Sherri Kolade

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and is receiving medical treatment, according to an article from The Detroit News.

Napoleon, 65, reportedly has had low oxygen levels while hospitalized, according to the article. The sheriff’s office announced Napoleon’s diagnosis on Nov. 19, and he was hospitalized the following day, the report added.

The sheriff was placed on a ventilator on Nov. 27 to keep his energy as he was having difficulty breathing. A Nov. 29 prayer vigil was held as Napoleon’s family led the event at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office on Woodward, the article stated.

“Don’t let fear and anxiety take over. We just have to stand united and believe that my father will walk out of that hospital the same way that he walked into that hospital,” said Napoleon’s daughter, Tiffani Jackson in the article.

“I understand that you all are overcome with emotions and I think that speaks volumes of his character. … That is my best friend laying in that hospital bed so I understand how you all feel not being able to reach out, talk to him.”

Over 50 people gathered for the vigil, including family members, officers, chaplains, and elected officials such as Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, the article added.

In March, Napoleon’s brother, Hilton, who is Highland Park’s chief of police, also caught the virus and was hospitalized for 71 days.

The virus devastated the sheriff’s office beginning in May, with Donafay Collins, commander of the division 2 jail, dying at 63 years old after contracting it, according to the article. Two deputies and two doctors who worked at the jail also died after contracting the virus.

Sheriff’s office employees are tested daily, downtown at the division 1 facility, and in Hamtramck at its division facility.

“As we all continue to support and pray for the sheriff in this critical time, the undersheriff, chief of staff, all of our chiefs, they assure you that the operations of this agency are continuing,” Paula Bridges, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, said in the article.

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