Detroit police spokeswoman Eren Stephens celebrates retirement, dies 3 days later
Detroit — Sgt. Eren Lynette Stephens celebrated her retirement with a well-attended party at the Detroit Police Department's Public Safety Headquarters on March 29.
Three days later, Sgt. Stephens died in her sleep of complications from multiple sclerosis on Monday, April 1, 2019, at her home in Detroit's Jefferson-Chalmers area. She was 60.
“She was happy and her usual friendly self at the party, “ said Sari Klok-Schneider, executive director of Detroit Goodfellows. “She was just such a lovely person, very involved with the Goodfellows over the past 20 years, and I can’t say enough good things about her.”
Sgt. Stephens, former spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department’s Public Information office, was on the Detroit Goodfellows board of directors in 2013.
“She loved what we did working with the children,” said Klok-Schneider.
Sgt. Stephens joined the Detroit Police Department in 1985 where she served in the 7th Precinct.
She rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the go-to person for the media, and others needing information about anything related to the Detroit Police Department.
Born in Highland Park, she graduated from Finney High School in Detroit and attended Wayne State University. After serving in the 7th Precinct, she was promoted to sergeant in 1999 and, in 2003, Sgt. Stephens was assigned to the Public Information Office, handling media coverage and community relations.
Among her responsibilities for community events in the police department was coordinating the department’s annual 9/11 memorial service and serving on the board of the Detroit Goodfellows children’s charity in 2013.
During that same year, she volunteered to work in the Police Medical Section, serving as a Michigan board member of the American Society for Suicide Prevention and co-founding the Detroit Police Peer Support Team.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig reflected Friday on Stephens' contributions to the department and beyond.
"Eren was that beacon of light, who truly embraced finding ways to better serve her fellow officers and the citizens of Detroit. She took a vision that I had for Peer Support, and she built it into something extraordinary," Craig said in a provided statement. "Eren saw the best in people and she viewed everyone as a friend. She was, and will always be, an example of how we should all strive to be."
Stephens also recently received resolutions of praise for her career from the Detroit City Council, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners and the Wayne County Board of Commissioners, as well as special citations from the Goodfellows and Craig.
At an event Thursday honoring women in the city's public safety departments, the chief praised Sgt. Stephens and said the department plans to honor her.
Craig said the department is looking to name a new office for its peer support unit after her because of her involvement in it.
"Eren will truly be missed and her memory will live on," Craig added Friday.
Survivors include her husband, Bill Laitner; stepson, Colin Laitner; mother, Mildred Stephens; sister, Gail Stephens; brother Larry Stephens; a nephew and a niece.
Visitation is 4-8 p.m. Friday at Swanson Funeral Home, 14751 W. McNichols in Detroit.
Family hour will be held at 9:15 a.m Saturday at St. Phillip’s Lutheran Church, 2884 E. Grand Blvd. in Detroit, followed by a funeral service at 10 a.m.
Donations can by made in Sgt. Stephens’ memory to the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, 1301 Third St Suite 547, Detroit, MI 48226.