WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCBD) – Crime is on the rise across the nation and the Charleston Police Department said they’re seeing that trend right here in the Lowcountry.

Lieutenant Heath King is the West Ashley Patrol Commander for the Charleston Police Department. He said property and violent crimes have increased in West Ashley over the past year, citing the pandemic as a possible reason.

King told News 2 many of these crimes are gang-related or happen between people who know each other.

“A lot of the violence that we’ve had is not just random violence. It’s gang-on-gang,” King explained. “We’re not having just random people getting robbed and shot and killed on the streets of Charleston. That can happen, but predominately, it’s always people who are acquainted with each other.”

When it comes to gang issues, King said many of them are territorial. He said drugs are typically involved and called it “territorial warfare.”

Community activists said they’re aware of this issue and they’re trying to address the root issues.

 “High poverty, lack of education, men out of the household, no hope. All of these things botched up together have led us to this point where we’re at right now,” said Pastor Thomas Dixon.

According to police, there are certain areas in West Ashley where gang activity is more prevalent. King said they’ve increased patrol presence in those neighborhoods. They also have detectives and intelligence officers working to find out who is operating the gangs.

“Once we identify them, we’re working with the Solicitor’s Office and our Federal partners to put some pressure on them to stay in jail,” King said.

Police said they are seeing gang activity in Charleston, and other surrounding areas as well.

While police say random acts of violence don’t usually occur, they advise community members to be aware of their surroundings.