A bill with a goal of strengthening the relationship between law enforcement within the communities they are tasked with protecting and serving passed the Senate on Tuesday with unanimous support.

Senate Bill 5353, sponsored by Sen. Steve Conway (D-Tacoma) creates a grant program with the goal of fostering community engagement through neighborhood organizing, law enforcement-community partnerships, youth mobilization and business engagement.

The bill would award grants to local government and law enforcement agencies as well as nongovernmental organizations to strengthen existing community policing programs.

“There is a lot of work to do to re-establish trust in law enforcement within communities across our state,” Conway said. “This bill will help strengthen programs that are working and hopefully serve as a tool for other communities to emulate programs that are making a difference.”

If passed, the bill would award grants to counties to strengthen existing community policing programs. It would also allow for other counties to apply for grants if they meet certain requirements such as developing law enforcement and community partnerships, violence and crime prevention programs and safety training.

“There is a lot of focus on what isn’t working about policing, and there is no question that change is needed,” Conway said. “I also think it’s important to elevate those programs that are working and that we expand those programs so that other communities can share in their success.”

SB 5353 will now go to the House of Representatives for further consideration.