2012 crime states show major crime improvement in Selma

Published 5:05pm Saturday, August 3, 2013

In a statewide report released last week, crime reported in 2012 fell significantly in Selma in key categories, but the question remains for some, what could be accomplished if Selma had more police officers?

The Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center released their annual report, Crime in Alabama 2012, which is the state’s official analysis of all crime reported within Alabama during the previous year. The report, which showed improvement in Selma, coincides with a similar report issued by the Selma Police Department earlier this year that showed an overall drop in crime within the city by more than 20 percent.

“I knew the report would show there was an improvement from 2011, because we track all of these categories throughout the year,” Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley said. “Overall, we showed a 21.2 percent drop in crime between 2011 and 2012.”

In the key part of the report, which tracks major crimes, in this case known as Part I crimes, Selma saw a drop in robbery, assault, burglary and larceny from 2011 to 2012.

Selma saw a 23 percent improvement in the number of robbery cases, a 31 percent drop in burglaries reported and a 32 percent drop in larcenies. The largest improvement was found in assaults, where there was a 65 percent drop between 2011 and 2012.

On the flip side, Selma reported an increase in the number of rapes and motor vehicle thefts. In rapes, 2012 saw a 17 percent increase, while motor vehicle thefts came in with a 23 percent increase. The number of homicides reported from 2011 stayed the same.

The released report also shows the clearance rates — or those crimes solved — for each city and county in Alabama.

Selma reported solving 80 percent of the homicides in 2012 and 26 percent of assaults. But, in each of the other Part I categories, the city reported solving less than 20 percent.

In rapes, 19 percent were cleared, while 16 percent of larceny cases were cleared. Only 11 percent of robbery cases were solved, while just four percent of motor vehicle thefts and three percent of burglary cases were cleared.

But, the report shows a significant improvement overall, and Riley said there are a number of factors that have helped, primarily the help of the community.

“I wish I could tell you just how many calls we get from residents, helping us clean up parts of our community,” Riley said. “There are so many people who are tired of these criminal elements operating in their community and their helping us do something about it.”

Riley, in addition to crediting recent raids and joint operations with state and federal agencies, also said the Crimestoppers hotline has helped.

“The ability to pay money to those who offer us tips has been a huge help and one we are thankful for,” Riley said.

With the statewide report and the one compiled by the Selma Police Department, Riley said he is so proud of the work of the department, but admitted his department could do more and they could receive more support from the city.

“Just imagine if we had the number of officers on the force that we are supposed to have,” Riley said, noting the department has 10 fewer officers than its quota. “Just imagine what could happen if we were able to offer our officers the pay that we should.”

Riley said he continues to lose officers to other agencies because the current pay scale for Selma officers is below what is offered by area counties and municipalities — some that are far smaller and have far fewer calls than Selma.

At the time the report was compiled, Selma had 50 sworn officers in the force.

“This report shows the Selma Police Department is fulfilling its mission,” Riley said. “Now, it’s our hope, we can get others to help us out and get the pay more competitive.”

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