Decision Delayed on Slain Officer's Name on Memorial

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by Michele McCormack

WAUWATOSA---The Wisconsin Professional Police Association tells CBS 58 News that the national board that decides which officers names get on a memorial wall, has delayed a decision on slain Wauwatosa Police Officer Jen Sebena.

The WPPA says it is speaking out because, "it is disgusted with the development."

The creator of a facebook memorial page began an online petition days ago when it was learned that Sebena's name had been deemed unfit for placement on the wall because her death was domestic violence related.

The WI Attorney General and Milwaukee Mayor along with nearly 10,000 people signed the petition saying they objected because Sebena was in uniform and on patrol when she was ambushed.

The National Law Enforcement Memorial Office is not responding to media inquiries and actually objected to the characterization that Sebena was their main focus of a Thursday meeting.

"It was a regularly scheduled meeting," a woman who would not identify herself told CBS 58's Michele McCormack. "I don't know why it's being presented that this meeting was called over this, I'll have the head of our media relations get back to you."

Here's the full statement from the WPPA:

MADISON-The Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) expressed its frustration and dismay over today's action by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to delay until 2014 a final decision on whether to add Wauwautosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena to its walls later this year.  Since learning earlier this week that the memorial had preliminarily recommended denying the addition of her name, the WPPA has spearheaded an aggressive effort to persuade the memorial's individual board members and to otherwise draw public attention to what it has characterized as "an offensive travesty."  The WPPA's executive director, Jim Palmer, corresponded by e-mail with several of the memorial's board members throughout their day-long meeting.

Officer Jennifer Sebena was shot and killed last December while on duty.  Her husband, Ben Sebena, acknowledged stalking his wife for several days in an effort to learn when she would be most vulnerable and in an attempt to conceal his crime.  He is currently facing several charges, including first degree intentional homicide.

Upon hearing that Sebena was not going to be included on the national memorial dedicated to honoring officers who die while on duty, law enforcement officers from around Wisconsin began contacting the WPPA, the state's largest group, to express their outrage.

"The national police memorial's action to further delay a final decision on the Jennifer Sebena controversy will do nothing to quell the anger that our state's officers feel about the disrespect the memorial has shown her," said Jim Palmer.  "While we are somewhat pleased that the memorial board didn't confirm its rejection of Jennifer, Wisconsin's law enforcement community will not rest until Jennifer Sebena is given the honor that her service and sacrifice demands."

According to Palmer, Sebena's death clearly meets the memorial's criteria for inclusion on its walls.  It has not been uncommon for the memorial to include the names of officers who, for example, have suffered heart attacks while on duty.

"Engraved into the National Law Enforcement Memorial's walls are the words 'It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived.'  The board's failure today to honor Jennifer Sebena on the sole basis of who killed her contradicts everything that the memorial should stand for.  Worse than that, this decision allows Jennifer Sebena's husband to further victimize her and desecrate her service to the community."

Palmer announced the WPPA's intention to reach out to the White House for support, and to continue to urge officers across the state to speak out on this issue. 

Representing nearly 10,000 members, the WPPA is Wisconsin's largest law enforcement group.

Petition Information:

https://www.change.org/petitions/the-national-law-enforcement-memorial-wall-put-wauwatosa-police-officer-sebena-on-the-national-le-memorial-wall

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