We Are UNCW

Alejandra Sotelo

November 9, 2021

For Alejandra Sotelo ’00, a Texas native and UNC Pembroke graduate student, her promotion to the Wilmington Police Department’s first female deputy chief in 2019 was facilitated by her prior experience with the department and her community. Sotelo began in the Support Services Bureau, was involved in the administrative and investigative functions of police work, then moved into field services. The promotion is a great honor for her, and Sotelo hopes that other women will follow in her footsteps.

“I am still the only female in the room during many executive meetings and hope that more young women will consider a career in law enforcement,” said Sotelo. “While our number of female recruits has increased greatly through the years, there is still room for improvement.”

As a UNCW alumna, Sotelo has been involved in several organizations that inform her role as deputy chief. She is a mentor for MI CASA, a two-year program that supports Hispanic high school sophomores wishing to attend college after graduation; a member of the Latino Alliance, a group that builds strong relationships between local citizens and organizations who provide for the Latino community; and president of the North Carolina Police Executives Association, an institution that collaborates with educators in the United States to provide training for police officers in North Carolina.

“These partnerships are very beneficial,” said Sotelo. “They allow police officers to see the Latino community and vice-versa. We also learn how we can help by asking and answering important questions. These partnerships help to build trust in the community and allow us to fill specific needs within the Wilmington area.”

Sotelo became involved in the Master of Public Administration program at UNC Pembroke in 2017, where she used the research techniques she learned toward her work at the police department. Her experience at UNCW also contributed to her success.

“I am so thankful for my academic career at UNCW,” said Sotelo. “The research method classes during grad school helped me evaluate not only specific programs, but also contribute to studies and research we do, particularly with crime stats.”

Sotelo became a part of the Wilmington Police Department in 2000 and has resided in Wilmington for more than 30 years. Today, she appreciates the experiences the department has bestowed her, along with individuals she has met during her work.

“When I joined this organization, I knew this was going to be my home for the next 30 years,” said Sotelo. “Everything else along the way has been a blessing. I am grateful to work for such an incredible organization filled with amazing men and women while being able to serve my community.”

--Diego Berrocal ’22