Wisconsin official given voice on Sebena memorial decision
An outspoken supporter of adding Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena to a national memorial wall has a seat at the table for next week's decision.
The National Association of Police Organizations Inc. is a member of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and has designated Jim Palmer to represent the organization at a Wednesday meeting to determine whether Sebena will be added to the fund's memorial wall in Washington.
Palmer is an NAPO regional vice president and executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, which has strongly advocated for the fund to include Sebena on its memorial wall.
The fund initially said it would not include Sebena, apparently because she was killed by an act of domestic violence. The fund then announced it would delay the decision until next year, before changing course and scheduling a special meeting for Wednesday.
Sebena's husband, Benjamin Sebena, is accused of shooting her to death Christmas Eve while she was on patrol.
NAPO President Thomas Nee said in a letter to fund chairman Craig Floyd on Thursday that Palmer would participate and vote on behalf of NAPO.
Palmer said Friday that he will "make the strong case for Jennifer Sebena's inclusion on the memorial wall for her service and sacrifice."
The WPPA already has pointed out that the memorial fund includes officers killed in nearly identical situations, such as officer Gwen Downs of Louisville, Ky., who was shot to death by her estranged husband while on duty in 1977.
The fund's preliminary decision not to include Sebena sparked outrage, and letters poured in from Gov. Scott Walker, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, 43 members of the Wisconsin Legislature and other officials and organizations.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn weighed in early this week, telling reporters: "It's a good decision to reconsider it; it will be a better decision when they decide to put her name on the monument."
Members of the public also voiced their disapproval with the decision. Nearly 16,000 people have signed an online petition asking the memorial fund to add Sebena to its memorial wall.
The memorial fund's main requirement for inclusion on the memorial wall is that an officer must have been "killed in the line of duty," meaning "a law enforcement officer has died as a direct and proximate result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty."