All members of the Wauwatosa Police Department were excused from regular duty Saturday to attend to another duty, one every bit as sacred to them as their sworn vows as peace officers.
The entire force was excused and encouraged to attend the funeral of Jennifer Lynn Sebena, who was killed in the line of duty on the morning of Christmas Eve.
But Wauwatosa's streets are safe, and no calls for police service will go unanswered. Officers from other towns, villages and cities, sheriff's deputies and state police, are covering Wauwatosa while it grieves.
In fact, police from other departments began to quietly take over shifts Friday as Wauwatosa officers were rotated off the road to prepare for Sebena's services.
An officer from Bayside reportedly went on duty Friday afternoon at Mayfair Mall. Others from around the metro area took over patrols.
In a police tradition, all Wauwatosa officers and many more from near and far were to participate in a procession following a noon service at Elmbrook Church to Wisconsin Memorial Park, where Sebena will be interred.
Squads from Shawno, Onalalaska, the Walworth County Sheriff's Department, Monroe – and scores more – filled the massive parking lot at Elmbrook, and officers entered the church flanked by a police honor guard.
The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department was taking over dispatch duties for Wauwatosa, and surrounding suburban districts were handling calls for service.
Many members of the Wauwatosa Fire Department also went to Officer Sebena's funeral, although the whole force was not relieved.
"We're covering ourselves," said Assistant Chief Jim Case. "Through our mutual aid agreements, we're well-protected.
"Everyone has offered to help – Milwaukee, West Allis, Butler – they've all offered to help."