Selma police chief finds positive trends amid difficult year

Crime statistics from 2023 show the Selma Police Department’s focus on increasing visibility, deterring violent crime within the city, police chief says

Selma Police Chief Rudy Alcaraz presents the department's 2023 crime statistics to the Selma City Council April 15, 2024.
Selma Police Chief Rudy Alcaraz presents the department's 2023 crime statistics to the Selma City Council April 15, 2024.
Serena Bettis
Published April 17, 2024  • 
10:00 am

SELMA – In the eyes of Selma Police Chief Rudy Alcaraz, the annual police department report highlights how police officers and other personnel have spent the last year working harder, taking more initiative and continuing the push to reduce violent crime. 

Symbolic of this work is the shiny new wrap that adorns many patrol vehicles, Alcaraz said. Showing a picture of a patrol car during a presentation to the city council, Alcaraz said that cars with the wrap have to be hand washed, but he feels the added effort is worth the pride that comes with it.

“This vehicle is really something to be proud of, and the new patch, the new badges, the new police department, these are all symbols that show that we’re headed in the right direction,” Alcaraz said. “It’s representative of our culture and what we’re trying to build and nourish here at the Selma Police Department.” 

Alcaraz said he hopes it was this work that led to the overall positive report on 2023 crime statistics he gave to the Selma City Council on April 15. Despite a year that began with the fatal shooting of Officer Gonzalo Carrasco on Jan. 31, 2023, there was an increase in total arrests, traffic citations, service calls and more. Additionally, cases classified as “Part 1 crimes” by the Department of Justice decreased by 19% between 2022 and 2023. 

“That’s an incredible number given the tragedy of events, and that’s a credit to our personnel … remembering that they still have a community to serve, and they did it with pride and professionalism,” Alcaraz said. “I could not be more proud of our sworn and non-sworn personnel, because it takes everybody within our organization to be able to come together and continue to serve our community.” 

Part 1 crimes are a category of serious crimes that law enforcement agencies are required to track and report to various state and federal agencies each month. Crimes included in the category are homicide, arson, aggravated assault, forcible rape, robbery, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. 

While there were two instances of homicide in 2023 compared to zero in 2022 and there were no instances of arson either year, all other crimes decreased, according to Alcaraz’s report. Larceny, the act of stealing property — which differs from robbery in that it does not involve using force or fear to steal from someone — decreased the most, with 424 instances recorded in 2022 and 283 recorded in 2023. 

Alcaraz said that more arrests in 2023 — 1,715 compared to 1,393 in 2022 — could have contributed to the overall decrease in Part 1 crimes along with increased police presence and visibility throughout the city. Increased visibility was a trend throughout the statistics reported by Alcaraz, who said that visibility is an important factor in deterring crime. 

Those efforts showed up in the number of traffic citations issued by patrol officers in 2023, which increased by 69% — from 1,892 in 2022 to 3,192. 

“I know that people don’t like tickets, but the reality is it slows people down, it creates visibility and visibility is a predicate to crime reduction, so I’m super proud of these numbers,” Alcaraz said.

Further, Alcaraz noted that out of the 35,167 calls for service in Selma recorded by the department’s dispatching unit — an increase of 16% from 2022 — 59% of those calls were self-initiated by police officers. This means that officers on patrol saw something and acted on it, creating their own call for service.

“That means we’re making more work than we’re being asked to produce,” Alcaraz said.

The number of illegal firearms seized by the department also nearly doubled from the previous year; although Alcaraz did not have the exact number of guns seized in 2022, he said it was between 24 and 26, which grew to 58 in 2023. A particular focus of Alcaraz’s has been to locate and seize illegal firearms within the city with the aim of reducing violent crime overall.

Alcaraz also spoke on code enforcement efforts, the department’s K-9 unit, School Resource Officers (SROs) assigned to local schools, property and evidence processing, firearm training, the records and detectives divisions and community outreach and support. 

When it comes to the bigger picture of keeping Selma safe, Alcaraz said that the department must continue to honor Carrasco and the example he set. 

“Gonzalo was such a great guy with a great smile, and we’ll forever miss him,” Alcaraz said. “There’s no words that I can say that capture the commitment and dedication this young man gave to the city of Selma; … his whole life was predicated on serving the community, and he gave it to do so.”

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter