Tamar Meekins in an undated photo. (Cynthia Jones)

Tamar Meekins, who had served since 2015 as the District’s deputy attorney general for public safety, with a legal purview included juvenile justice issues and combating slumlords, died Feb. 19 at a hospital in Bethesda, Md. She was 55.

The cause was a heart attack and complications from cancer, said her sister, Harolyn Meekins.

Ms. Meekins began her legal career in Washington in the late 1980s with the firm Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood. She later joined the city’s Public Defender Service as a trial lawyer, advancing over a dozen years to chief of legal services. In that role, she coordinated the work of six divisions.

In the early 2000s, she began teaching criminal law at Howard University’s law school. She also directed Howard’s Clinical Law Center, growing the law office significantly after securing a $500,000 grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to create, among other things, a fair-housing clinic.

At Howard, she also volunteered to train lawyers at numerous organizations and universities.

Tamar Maria Meekins was born in Richmond on Nov. 21, 1961. She was a 1984 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a 1987 graduate of the University of Virginia law school.

In the 1990s, she served on the board of the Greater Washington Urban League and as president of the Urban Roundtable. She was a District resident.

Survivors include her sister, of Richmond.