City to rename DPD major crimes and training facility after former Police Chief and Sheriff, Benny Napoleon

City to rename DPD major crimes and training facility after former Police Chief and Sheriff, Benny Napoleon

  • Former Chief of Police spent years leading Organized Crime and Gang Intelligence units and was committed to officer training
  • DPD to convert half of building into a high-tech training center for existing officers and academy recruits

The City of Detroit will rename a Detroit Police Department building on Oakman Boulevard near Focus Hope after former Chief of Police and Wayne County Sheriff, Benny Napoleon, who passed away in December 2020 after a battle with COVID-19.  

Mayor Mike Duggan and Chief James Craig, along with Council President Brenda Jones and members of Napoleon’s family, today announced the plans to name the DPD building at 1200 Oakman Boulevard the Benny N. Napoleon Intelligence and Training Center, in recognition of Napoleon’s legendary work with Detroit’s Gang Unit and his personal commitment to officer training.  

The building, which the City purchased last year from Focus Hope for $1 million, currently houses DPD’s Organized Crime and Gang Intelligence Units.  A second building on the site will be renovated into a state-of-the-art training facility for officers to develop and sharpen their skills. Another portion of the building will be used to store records DPD has gathered over the years.  

“Benny Napoleon made an impact on our city and in law enforcement that few will ever match,” said Mayor Duggan. “While his experience was vast, it was always major crimes – particularly gang-related criminal activity – that he most sought to affect throughout his career at DPD and as Sheriff.  Now, future generations of DPD officers will be reminded of his legacy, his contributions to the community, and his commitment to this work every time they step into this building.” 

Napoleon served the community at DPD from 1975 until 2001 when he retired as Chief of Police. He served as Sheriff from 2009 until his death in December of 2020.   Following his graduation from Cass Technical High School in 1975, Napoleon was recruited to the police academy during Mayor Coleman A. Young’s drive to diversify DPD. He was quickly identified as a promising leader, rapidly rising as the youngest to achieve each rank, including an inspector, commander, deputy chief of police, and chief of police at the age of 43.  
 

Napoleon


“I’m honored and thankful that Mayor Duggan and the members of City Council have decided to pay homage to my father in such a grandiose and public manner,” said Napoleon’s daughter Tiffani Jackson.  “This building would mean the world to him.”

When he was an inspector in the late 1980s, Benny was in charge of the gang squad where he transformed the unit to not only reduce crime but also establish relationships with the community, which today is often called community policing. He and his team held meetings with neighborhood residents and pastors to work together to eliminate the potential for crime to happen in the first place. He spearheaded a partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to dismantle major gang operations including Latin Counts, Cobras, Young Boys Incorporated, and Pony Down. While the commanding officer for the gang squad, Benny was also in charge of the tactical services section for the uniform officers.
 
During his tenure as chief of police, DPD reduced activity, participation, and victimization of youth as a result of gang activities by enforcing the curfew ordinance and the ordinance regarding minors unlawfully in a public place. Based on these actions, DPD reduced shooting-related deaths of minors by 95 percent during Benny’s tenure as chief.

“The Honorable Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon will forever be remembered for his outstanding leadership, exceptional service, and sense of integrity,” said Chief Craig.  “What better way to honor his memory and years of dedication than by renaming this facility after him? It will truly represent the legacy he brought to this department and the great city of Detroit.” 

Council President Brenda Jones, speaking on behalf of her colleagues enthusiastically supported the gesture of naming the facility after the popular Chief of Police, Sheriff, and community leader. 

“Benny, as he was affectionately known by everyone he met, was the true essence of a Detroiter,” said Council President Brenda Jones. “It is only fitting that his legacy have a permanent presence in Detroit by the name Benny N. Napoleon being affixed to this brick and mortar building that represents his immovable faith in God and his strength as a leader.”