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Wauwatosa's Greatest Person 2012: The Police Officer

The Wauwatosa police watch over us while we sleep – and are ready to fall in the line of duty, if duty demands. Rest in peace, Officer Jennifer Lynn Sebena.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked for nominations from readers as to who might be the greatest person in Wauwatosa in 2012 – the person who, above all, gave the most to this community and stood for the best of what we all stand for.

The plan was to run a story at dawn on Christmas and let it ride throughout the day – a glowing proflie of that one person who stood out a bit above the many who have contributed so much to making wonderful Wauwatosa an even more wonderful place.

Maybe I should just have done that. Even though circumstances have intervened, maybe I should have just forged ahead with something about all that is good and right about today....

With apologies to that person who was most roundly acclaimed, I just can't do it. I promise that in a day or two, I will get back on that track and give Wauwatosa Patch's most heartfelt thanks to not only that person, but to all who were nominated as citizen leaders of our great city.

That person, and all those people, deserve the applause.

But I just can't go there. There is only one person on my mind at the moment.

Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena was killed – apparently murdered – in the line of duty yesterday, Christmas Eve. We don't know what exactly happened, how or even just when she died. We certainly don't know why.

From what I've been able to learn about her so far, Officer Sebena stood for all that we want and hope for from a police officer and a citizen. She was dedicated, very well-trained and motivated. She was kind and considerate and concerned. She wanted the best for those she was sworn to protect and serve.

Officer Sebena was an officer, yes, but she was also a wife to Benjamin, a wounded veteran. She was a volunteer who worked with young people at her church.

She died on duty, sometime between 3 and 5 a.m., in Wauwatosa Village, on what is called the graveyard shift.

I've gotten to know a number of Wauwatosa police officers over the past few years, and I like all whom I have met. Officer Sebena, I did not know. But I know that she took seriously her vow.

Now, she is dead. Dead by a cruel hand. Shot down at face-blank.

There is only one citizen of the year on my mind at this moment. And it is not only Officer Jennifer Sebena – although she alone has given her life.

Officer Sebena was on duty, on the third shift, where a lot of strange things happen. Any officer wiil tell you that 3 a.m. is the witching hour. Bad things happen then – but bad things can, and do, happen at any hour, on any shift.

Wauwatosa police officers face those things every day, and especially every night while we sleep. They are out there, on patrol, as Officer Sebena was, at all hours of every night.

The Wauwatosa police officer who puts his or her life on the line day and night is Wauwatosa Patch's Person of the Year for Christmas Day, 2012. There can't be any other.

Thank you, officers, for all that you do. Thank you for the many lonely hours you spend when we do not even know you are there.

These are not just the best officers that money can buy – they are the best that money can't buy.

Thank you, Officer Jennifer Lynn Sebena, for giving us your life.

Merry Christmas to Wauwatosa. You may sleep well tonight.

jbw December 25, 2012 at 08:02 AM
That's a thoughtful memorial. I second your sentiment.
Toni Araiza December 25, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Thank you, Mr. Price for your beautiful and respectful prose re: Officer Jennifer Lynn Sebena. And, you are right. Whilst we sleep in our warm beds, locked doors and windows, our men and women in blue protect us under a cloak of darkness where dark shadows lie unseen. We do not have to know our community servants by name, but we the residents in our City of Wauwatosa do respect and appreciate their committment and sacrifices in a job that we know is at times thankless, taken for granted and unappreciated. R.I.P. Officer Jennifer Lynn Sebena~
Toni Mueller December 25, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Very well said Jim. Yesterday was not only a very sad day for Officer Sebena's family, but also for our community of Wauwatosa and our police department. You're tribute is fitting and appreciated by all.
Naomi December 25, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I knew both of them from their volunteering at Elmbrook Church. Ben loved her more than anything and would do anything for her. She was an amazing mentor and friend to me, and Ben helped to get my brother ready for the Marines earlier this year. My prayers and thoughts are with him and the family today.
Nancy Hall December 25, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Thank you for the thoughtful article. Officer Sebena's death is a sad and shocking reminder of how much Wauwatosa's police officers do for us.
Matt Schroeder December 26, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Based on the nature of some comments in this article, many of them have been deleted as violation of our terms of service. Comments on this article are now closed. Thank you.

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