IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY FRIEND BENNY

By Pageant Biacna Atterberry

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It was July 2017 when I met Benny, we would laugh about me having no clue what a sheriff was or what he did. I was subbing as a producer on the Charlene Mitchell show when Benny came on the show as a guest.

A couple of weeks prior to that a family member passed away, being that Benny was a close friend of my family he attended the funeral; I did not. A few days after the funeral, my Father and I found out that the Detroit Police Department was looking for a Communications Director, and my Dad suggested I call Benny Napoleon.

My father insisted that Benny could help me get the job with the DPD but I had no clue on how to connect with him so imagine the irony when he walked through the door at my job.

I mentioned to Benny that he recently attended my cousin's funeral and he replied, “I was there, but you weren’t". I thought, how did he know that, and that was the first lesson he thought me, pay attention to your surroundings.

I told Benny what my father said and Benny pointed to his current Director of Communications Kelly to set up a time for us to chat about the position with DPD.

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Within the next few days I spoke with Benny and he got to learn my character and what I was looking for in the job market. Eventually I interviewed with the DPD, although I did not get that position by January 2018 the Director of Communications position at the Sheriff’s office became open and Benny called to ask if I wanted the job. I happily accepted.

In February 2018, right before I started the new job, Benny told me, “when I was young someone gave me a chance and I want to give you a chance". And so, he did.

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He always pushed me to be my best, he poured so much into me, so much knowledge, character building and discipline. He once told me, “I’m going to be the best thing that ever happened to you, and I don't want anything in return, just for you to pay it forward, your future is so bright and I am so proud of you, don’t pay attention to the nay-sayers, keep going", and so I did.

With the support of Sheriff Benny N. Napoleon, I was able to finish 5 graduate certificates from Harvard University along with my Masters Degree in Government.

On November 20, 2020 around 2pm, Benny called me and told me how he was feeling and that he was taking himself to the hospital. My heart clinched, but his mind was made up. We said our goodbyes and by December 17, 2020 he succumbed to COVID-19. I am still in shock.

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This man had grown to become my mentor, educator, food buddy, laughing partner and closest friend. I kept him cool, hip and youthful. He once said, “I never thought I could have anything in common with a young person but you’ve surprised me, 28".That was my code name, “28” which he later changed to “PBA” (my initials) by I think no matter the age or experience, he was able to connect with anyone at their level.

I thank God for allowing us all to experience a man such as Sheriff Napoleon. I thank God for allowing someone, outside of my family to come into my life and change me for the better.

Benny was a man of dignity, respect, compassion, always fair and understanding. There will never be another Benny Nelson Napoleon, JD.

When I think of him going forward, I won’t be sad that he’s gone, I’m going to be happy that we had him.

We will love you always, and forever.

-Director Pageant Bianca Atterberry

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Benny Napoleon
1955 -2020
Detroit HERO