Tosa officer becomes 263rd to die in line of duty in Wisconsin

Jennifer Sebena shot multiple times in early hours of Dec. 24

Dec. 24, 2012

Wauwatosa police lost one of their own on Christmas Eve. Between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m., Jennifer Lynn Sebena, 30, was shot multiple times and killed, Lt. Gerald Witkowski said.

When a dispatch attempted to send Sebena out on a call and didn't get a response, another officer was sent to investigate.

The officer found Sebena's body near Harmonee and Underwood avenues, Witkowski said. The area was searched, but no suspects were found.

Lincoln Elementary School is being used as a command center for the ongoing homicide investigation led by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. There are no suspects at this time, Witkowski said.

Officers from the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office and Brookfield, Elm Grove, West Allis, Cudahy and Oak Creek police departments helped close off the area and redirect traffic.

"Our hearts are heavy. We can't believe that something like this occurs," Witkowski said during a news conference earlier today.

Sebena, a second-year officer, is the 263rd Wisconsin officer killed in the line of duty - and the 117th killed by gunfire, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that honors every law enforcement officer in the country who dies on duty.

She died on one of the three most dangerous days of the year for law enforcement officers: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, according to the website.

Harold Weinke, police officer and board member of the Wisconsin branch of Concerns of Police Survivors, lost his son in the line of duty in 1998. He said there is no such thing as a routine call, adding: "You can't ever let your guard down no matter if you're county, city or village. There is a constant threat. If you stop somebody, you never know what you're going to get into. There could be a brake light out and they could have committed a homicide in the county next to yours."

Wisconsin C.O.P.S. specializes in helping families, police departments and communities cope after an officer dies. The group is made up of family members and friends of those who have died in the line of duty.

C.O.P.S. gets involved at the request of the affected department, and Weinke said he is ready to respond if Wauwatosa needs him. He also pointed out there are many resources in the Milwaukee area that the Wauwatosa Police Department can call on for help.

Peer support is the best way for the department members to alleviate the pain of their loss, he said.

"Law enforcement is one big family. We're all brothers and sisters. Just be there for your co-workers and don't be afraid to let your feelings be known. You've got to be there for one another. Law enforcement is a dangerous line of work, and this is a reminder."

Sebena was relatively new to the force having joined in January of 2011. She began conducting solo patrols last July. She ended her probationary period last November.

Witkowski trained Sebena and was there for her graduation. He described her in one word: great. His email has been swamped by concerned community members sending prayers and thoughts.

"Thoughts and prayers are much appreciated. A lot of you have already sent emails to the department and my office, and that's appreciated. It really is," he said.


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