CPD, local law enforcement aim to form gang violence task force

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry law enforcement agencies are finding new ways to fight big problems across the Tri-county area. Law enforcement say the area is seeing a rise in violent and gang-related crimes over the last year including an increase in homicides and assaults.

The Charleston Police Department (CPD) is hoping to curb the increase by creating a regional gang task force with other agencies.

“It’s like an all-hands on deck kind of thing,” says Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis.

Police say the increase in violent crime has come with gang affiliation.

“A lot of the violent crimes that we are seeing, they have some type of gang nexus involved,” says Andre Jenkins, a Captain with the Charleston Police Department.

Captain Jenkins says CPD is working to secure funding in order to operate the regional gang task force.

“We’ll be able to combat some of those crimes,” says Captain Jenkins. “We’ve always known of neighborhood gangs but now it seems to have expanded.”

The Charleston Police Department isn’t the only agency seeing an increase in gang related crime. Sheriff Lewis says he’s seen a spike in Berkeley County the last eight months and says the joint task force would cast a wider net to search for criminals.

The task force would join several agencies including the Mount Pleasant and North Charleston Police Departments alongside the Charleston and Berkeley County Sheriff’s Offices and more to maximize resources.

“It’s extremely important because our citizens expect to be safe,” says Captain Jenkins.

“To help get more intelligence on these smaller pockets and also on the larger national gang affiliation,” says Sheriff Lewis.

Sheriff Lewis says he’s excited for the task force and believes it’ll be a major help for the agencies battling the rising crime.

“I think this is a first step for everybody,” says Sheriff Lewis. “I think you’re probably going to see around the country more agencies trying to go to this.”

If approved at Tuesday night’s Charleston City Council meeting, the grant would allow agencies to increase equipment, personnel and other resources to combat the rise in crime. This project requires a 10% City match of $62,333 if approved. This application is due on March 26, 2021.

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