UPDATE: Group votes to add slain officer's name to memorial - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Group votes to add slain officer's name to memorial

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A nonprofit group voted Wednesday to add the name of a Wauwatosa police officer to a national memorial honoring officers killed in the line of duty.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund agreed to add Jennifer Sebena to the memorial in Washington, D.C. The 30-year-old officer was shot in the head multiple times on Christmas Eve as she conducted a routine solo patrol.

The group had previously excluded Sebena because her husband, Ben Sebena, is a suspect in the shooting, meaning her death could be classified as a case of domestic violence.

It was a controversial decision among the law enforcement community.

"If [Ben Sebena] was at large or got away with it in some way, if he was not identified, there would be no question as to whether [Jennifer Sebena would] be honored on the wall," says Det. Tracie Jokala, board member for the Wisconsin Association of Women Police (WAWP).

It sparked outrage among the public, who took to Facebook and other social media to fight for Jennifer Sebena. More than 16,000 people signed a petition to get her name on the memorial, and many sent letters to the board, including WAWP.

In the end, the board decided to take a new vote before the annual dedication in May.

"Our voices were heard and it was amazing to see the people who came out and supported this," says Det. Gloria Reyes, with WAWP.

One board member even offered up his vote to Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA). Palmer and other police advocates gathered information about a number of other officers whose deaths are honored on the memorial under very similar circumstances as Jennifer Sebena's murder.

Palmer was on the hour-long conference call for a vote.

"There was a lot of discussion to make sure the board understood it didn't have any questions," says Palmer. "Many members said based on this information Jennifer Sebena deserved to be on the wall."

Police advocates say it's what should have happened from the beginning.

"I think all of us can feel a sense of pride now that our sister in blue is rightfully where she belongs," says Jokala.

On Wednesday, Governor Scott Walker responded to the board's unanimous decision to honor Sebena. The governor had called the board expressing his concern and support for Sebena's recognition, and got a call after the vote was made on Wednesday morning.

"I appreciate the fact that they didn't just immediately do it," Walker says. "They took the time to meet as a board, they spent time talking to Police Chief Barry Weber, who I've known for 20-plus years and found out what was involved in all that and I think that was incredibly important."

Governor Walker says Sebena was patrolling his neighborhood in Wauwatosa when she was killed so it hits close to home. he says he's happy to hear she'll be recognized for her years of service.

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MILWAUKEE (WKOW) -- A nonprofit group voted Wednesday to add the name of a Wauwatosa police officer to a national memorial honoring officers killed in the line of duty.

WISN-TV reports the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund agreed to add Jennifer Sebena to the memorial in Washington, D.C. The 30-year-old officer was shot in the head multiple times on Christmas Eve as she conducted a routine solo patrol.
    
The group had previously excluded Sebena because her husband is a suspect in the shooting, meaning her death could be classified as a case of domestic violence.
    
Gov. Scott Walker, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and more than 16,000 signatures on an online petition helped persuade the group to reverse its decision in a unanimous vote Wednesday, said WPPA spokesman Jim Palmer, who cast one of the 15 votes.

On Wednesday, Van Hollen's office released a statement reacting to the decision:

"I commend the Memorial Fund for making the right decision.  I believed from the start there was no intention by the Fund to deprecate Officer Sebena's sacrifice but rather the initial decision to deny her this honor was an oversight.  Officer Sebena is deserving of this and her presence on the memorial will honor her colleagues who have lost their lives and in the line of duty as well as those who continue to put their lives on the line every day."
 
Tonight on 27 News, Jennifer Kliese will share reaction from one of the representatives on the board who voted today.

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MILWAUKEE (WKOW) -- A nonprofit group is scheduled to vote on whether to add the name of a fallen Wisconsin police officer to its memorial of officers killed in the line of duty.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is set to vote Wednesday morning.

The group initially planned not to include Wauwatosa Officer Jennifer Sebena's name on the memorial, saying her death was an incident of domestic violence. Investigators say Sebena was killed by her husband, but she was on duty at the time.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker joined the Wisconsin Professional Police Association in pressuring the memorial group to reconsider the case.

Benjamin Sebena, 30, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to a homicide charge in his wife's death.

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