Group renews call to immediately approve adding her name to its walls
(Madison, WI) The group spearheading the aggressive crusade to urge the resistant leaders of the national police memorial to add the name of a Wisconsin officer killed by her husband while on duty has learned that the memorial has honored officers in the past killed under almost identical circumstances.
Wauwautosa Police 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.
After preliminarily denying the addition of Sebena’s name to the memorial, the board of directors for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) voted yesterday to delay a final decision until 2014, citing a need for more information about her case. The effort to draw public scrutiny to this issue was began by the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA), who heard from outraged officers from all across the state and nation, but has since been joined by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Governor Scott Walker, and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, among others. A national police group, the National Association of Police Organizations, has also added its support.
Now, in newly uncovered information from the official websites for the NLEOMF and the State of Kentucky, the WPPA has learned that the police memorial already honors a female officer killed in 1977 under circumstances very similar to those surrounding Jennifer Sebena’s murder. Louisville Patrolman Gwen Downs was shot and killed after she and her partner responded to a parking lot on a call. After waiting several minutes and unable to find anyone who had called the police, Officer Down’s estranged husband pulled into the lot and shot her before committing suicide.
Upon learning this information, the WPPA’s executive director, Jim Palmer, was incredulous.
“The denial of Jennifer Sebena was outrageously baffling before we knew this, but now the memorial board’s position on her case has simply become ridiculous,” said Palmer. “The memorial board now claims to need additional time and information to consider Jennifer Sebena’s case when they have already added the names of officers in the past that were killed in almost precisely the same fashion as she was. This almost appears personal.”
In light of this new information, Wisconsin’s largest police group renewed its call on the memorial board to immediately approve adding Sebena’s name.
“Given what we now know, the memorial board still has time to do the right thing and honor her this year,” said Palmer. “Frankly, if this isn’t enough, then I honestly don’t know what will be.”