OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Experts say gun violence usually escalates in the Oklahoma City metro during the summer months.

On Saturday, faith and community leaders gathered to have an open discussion about how to make the city safer and make 2022 the summer of peace.

“Everybody wants peace. We want to create ways to open to the conversation,” said Jabee Williams.

Police officers, community leaders, and regular citizens came together at an Oklahoma City church on Saturday to try to curb gun violence, deaths, and incarceration of youth during the summer months in Oklahoma City.

“Gun violence is our biggest focus right now,“ said Deputy Chief Jason Clifton, of the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Police officials say leadership has recently instituted weekly meetings to review all gun-related crimes and incidents. They say these types of summits offer great perspective for change.

“We can’t do anything without the community and their feelings, their mind set, their understanding of what is going on, matters. When we engage in these conversations, we do learn a lot,” said Clifton.

“No matter what city you are in, everyone wants to live free from gun violence,” said Pastor Mike McBride.

McBride is the head of Live Free USA, a community action group based in Berkley, California. He says his plan for peace is to use public health strategies to scale up the work that actually saves lives without growing prison populations and without breaking up families.

“It’s proven to work in big cities, small cities, Republican cities, Democratic cities, rich cities, poor cities, black cities, white cities. It’s just a peace-making strategy,” said McBride.

Local organizers say it is important to open up these discussions before Juneteenth activities and before youth are out of school for the summer.

“We are going to be working on a new model for violence intervention and to create resources and educate on ways we intervene and have a peaceful summer, this summer in the city,” said Williams.

For more information on the methods of Rev. McBride, you can visit livefreeusa.org