Officer Sebena's name to be added to memorial in mid-May
WAUWATOSA (WITI) -- Slain Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena's name will be added to a national memorial for fallen police officers by mid-May.
Officer Sebena's name will appear on Section 58E, Line 25 of the memorial.
The Wisconsin Professional Police Association announced on April 3rd that Officer Sebena's name will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2013. This is a reversal of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Board's initial decision NOT to include Sebena's name on the memorial.
Officer Sebena was shot to death while on duty in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve. Her husband, Benjamin Sebena, has been charged with her death.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Board first said they would NOT include Officer Sebena's name on the memorial, citing the fact that she was gunned down in an incident of domestic violence -- which led to outrage. Then, the Board said it would reconsider whether to add Sebena's name to the memorial in 2014. Later, the Board announced it would reconsider its decision on April 3rd.
"It was sort of for us, unbelievable that they disqualified her for being murdered by her husband," Carmen Pitre with the Sojourner Family Peace Center -- a domestic violence advocacy organization said.
Many reached out to the Board in support of adding Officer Sebena's name to the memorial -- including the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, the Sojourner Family Peace Center and thousands of citizens. A petition on change.org gather thousands of supporters in an effort to add Officer Sebena to the memorial. The Wisconsin Professional Police Association even wrote a letter to President Obama.
"It all came together and helped influence today's result," Jim Palmer with the WPPA said.
"Now she's going to be recognized on that memorial and it's a very good day," Brian Dorow, a former instructor of Sebena's at WCTC said.
Palmer with the WPPA led the fight for Officer Sebena, and was one of the 15 votes in favor of reversing the National Board's original decision.
"It`s clear there was an information gap in terms of what they were aware of in terms of precedential cases," Palmer said.
"It allows us to remember her for the good work that she did. It's a good message to send to survivors that your life matters -- regardless of what happens to you. Her memory deserves to be honored for what she contributed -- not for how she died," Pitre said.
Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber released a statement Wednesday regarding the decision. The statement reads: "I am very pleased with the decision made today by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. I believe the correct decision was made. Jennifer Sebena’s name belongs on the memorial wall in Washington D.C. Her sacrifice should not be forgotten and will not be forgotten. I thank everyone who has been supportive of our department. I was confident the right decision would ultimately be made. And it was."
Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday released a statement reacting to the board's decision to include Sebena's name on the memorial. The statement reads:
“I would like to thank Chairman Floyd and the board for considering our request and making the decision to add Officer Sebena to the memorial wall."
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett also released a statement, reading:
“Jennifer Sebena earned the recognition she will receive on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Her service to our region, her willingness to face danger, and, ultimately, her violent death are all factors that make her a hero.
I thank the board members of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund for thoughtfully reconsidering their decision. Similarly, the individuals and organizations that joined together in support of Jennifer Sebena’s recognition deserve our gratitude.
An inscription on The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial says simply, “It is not how these officers died that made them heroes. It is how they lived.” That is how we will remember Jennifer Sebena.”