CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - "I was in the room and I know the people that were there."
That is longtime community activist Khalid Samad. Everybody in Cleveland that knows anything about fighting crime, drugs and violence knows Samad has been there, done that.
Wednesday, he and members of the Peace Makers Alliance met at East Tech with like-minded people from Chicago and Baltimore to increase the peace. Francisco Perez, National Director of Cure Violence, is from the Windy City.
"It's a health model," Perez said. "It's not a criminal justice model. We've done a paradigm shift not accepting the criminal justice system in and of itself is going to solve all the issues."
Perez says the criminal justice system has to change its thinking and methods.
"What we're doing is we're using the World Health Organization model to combat this disease of violence. Just like we would AIDS, TB, Cholera, all these other diseases."
Lori Toscano is fighting the battle in Baltimore.
"It's very clear from meeting with these folks that they're very passionate about their work and that they have the credibility and that they are reaching out to people to try and prevent shootings and retaliations," Toscano said.
Councilman Zack Reed, who has called for more police on the streets, invited Cure Violence to Cleveland.
"What I'm hoping to learn is their targeted approach," Reed said. "The way we're doing it now, we're doing it now in the city of Cleveland with a peanut butter approach. We're all over this city and with the limit manpower and the police force you can see that's isn't working."
Hank Davies is a member of The Peace Makers Alliance. He was among those meeting in a classroom at East Tech High School on Cleveland's east side.
"We're trying to bridge that gap between our community and law enforcement," Davies said. "So, we're trying to give them life skills that going to help them hopefully not fall in those pits holes."
Download the Cleveland 19 News app.