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Grand jury told to seek an end to youth gun violence

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A Baltimore judge ordered a grand jury yesterday to examine youth gun violence in this city of 300-plus homicides a year and to come up with a plan for a collective attack by law enforcement and the community.

Judge Wanda K. Heard asked the 23 grand jurors, who will serve a six-month term, to analyze current violence-curbing initiatives.

"Different chiefs in our community, in different sectors of our community, are working in small groups or individually to attack the problem of youth gun violence," Heard told the jurors. "The problem of youth gun violence is too immense for one chief or several to solve. How do we get all interested chiefs to put their collective logs on the fire?"

Grand juries in Baltimore are given assignments beyond hearing evidence in criminal cases. Heard said she chose youth gun violence because she worries about her 13-year-old daughter.

"I'm a judge, but I am also a mom, and I am concerned," Heard said. "I feel very strongly that we need all of the tools available to us" to curtail violence.

Past topics for grand jurors have included vocational training for prisoners, the arrest and booking process, and mental illness among prisoners, Heard said.

The grand jurors are free to summon people to speak to them in their investigation. At the end of their term, they will produce a report of their findings.

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