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More than 1,000 go blue for Sebena

A wreath honoring City of Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena hangs in the window of a home improvement store at 4100 N. 124th Street.

A wreath honoring City of Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena hangs in the window of a home improvement store at 4100 N. 124th Street. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Dec. 3, 2013

Showing Wauwatosa police officers they remember Tosa officer Jennifer Sebena is as simple as changing a lightbulb for the more than 1,000 people who have joined the Blue4Sebena event on Facebook.

The event, created by Jason Asselin, the Sebena memorial page's manager, has had 1,117 people sign up since its inception Nov. 16. The page was created in the wake of Sebena's murder Dec. 24, 2012.

As for the blue lights, Asselin hopes they will help cheer up Wauwatosa officers as they patrol late at night and early into the morning.

"I knew the dark moment was coming next month and wanted to light it up a little," he added. "How cool would it be for Wauwatosa to be lit up by blue lights?"

The event's Facebook page is packed with photos of blue porch lights, blue string lights and other blue lighted decorations. The people posting those photos come from all over Southeastern Wisconsin, with some hailing from Baraboo, Germantown and Waukesha. Others come from even farther. There are pictures from Evansville, Ind., and McFarland, Wis., among the other photos.

The Wauwatosa Police Reserve Unit has thrown in its support by stringing up one of the trees outside the Police Department with blue lights.

Support from afar

Asselin doesn't have any personal ties to Sebena or her family and he doesn't live in Wauwatosa. He lives in East Kingsford, Mich., and when he heard about her death, he knew he had to do something.

He created the Facebook page to not only honor her, but to give community members a place to express their feelings and condolences. He heavily moderates the page and removes negative posts about her death or her killer, her husband Ben Sebena.

"I want to keep it a happy place," he added. "I want to share her life, as it was."

Asselin has created many officer memorial Facebook pages since his first memorial page honoring Fond Du Lac officer Craig Birkholz, who was killed in 2011. He said he feels it is his patriotic duty.

He also rides motorcycle with the Michigan Patriot Guard, helping with military funerals and escorting soldiers home.

Church takes part

The Trinity Episcopal Church in Wauwatosa is another well of support for Sebena's supporters. Neither she nor any family members had direct ties to the congregation, but the church members have turned every exterior light possible blue.

The Rev. Gary Manning canceled early Christmas Eve service last year due to the church's proximity to the crime. The church is, as he describes, two football fields away from the scene of Sebena's murder.

He came home that day to a buzz on his email. Many church members were saying that they should do something to help the community. He decided to host an impromptu candlelit prayer session in the church's welcome garden that night. Nearly 40 people showed up to offer prayers and condolences, he said.

Manning said the congregation has a deep respect for servicemen and servicewomen. He still reads the name of every American soldier killed in Afghanistan. He found out about the blue lights from a church member who had ties to law enforcement.

"It's a real sense of honoring those who give of themselves in service, not just the folks who die in the line of duty, but the people who are willing to make that kind of commitment every day," he said.

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