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Wayne County deputy chief appointed as sheriff, replacing beloved late Benny Napoleon

Late sheriff died due to complications with COVID-19 after being reelected in 2020

DETROIT – Wayne County Deputy Chief Raphael Washington has been appointed as the county’s new sheriff, replacing the beloved late Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

On Friday, Washington was selected by a three-person panel consisting of Chief Judge Freddie Burton, County Clerk Cathy Garrett and Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

Washington’s appointment will last through to the 2022 special primary and general elections. According to county officials, Washington must file to run in those elections.

The sheriff position became vacant after Napoleon died on Dec. 17 due to complications with COVID-19. Napoleon was reelected in 2020, with his new term slated to begin on Jan. 1.

According to state statute, if a sheriff is elected and dies before starting the new term, the seat must be filled within 15 days after the term begins.

Fourteen applicants, including Undersheriff Daniel Dfannes, were interviewed Thursday and Friday for the vacant position, before Washington was chosen.



“I congratulate Raphael Washington on his selection to be Sheriff of Wayne County. We have some very challenging times ahead. It is essential that Wayne County’s leaders continue working together as a team to safeguard the health, safety and economic stability of our community. I know Raphael understands this and is prepared to meet these challenges head-on.

“The loss of Benny Napoleon cannot be overstated. He was a close friend and an outstanding public servant who simply cannot be replaced. But I do look forward to working closely with our new sheriff on behalf of Wayne County.

“I also want to thank Wayne County Chief Probate Judge Freddie Burton, Prosecutor Kym Worthy, and Clerk Cathy Garrett for their service in selecting our new sheriff.”

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans

“I congratulate Sheriff Washington on his appointment and am pleased that the panel had so many well-qualified candidates to choose from in making its selection.

“I am confident Sheriff Washington will serve with honesty and integrity in upholding the office to the highest of standards, all the while having the best interest of Wayne County residents.”

Wayne County Commission Chair Alisha Bell

“Wayne County made a strong decision today to elevate Chief Deputy Ray Washington to fill Benny Napoleon’s unexpired term as Wayne County Sheriff. Benny understood that policing required diligence, professionalism and compassion as we navigate some very serious economic and societal pressures. Ray will bring continuity, integrity and an understanding of community public service to this crucial role. The UAW congratulates Ray Washington on his appointment as Wayne County Sheriff.”

UAW President Rory L. Gamble

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