OLYMPIA — Legislation passed Monday by the Senate would assist law enforcement agencies in partnering with mental health professionals to respond to crisis situations in a safer, more helpful way.

“We all know that law enforcement agencies are responding to a significant number of calls,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle. “This bill will expand successful mental health field response teams already operating in Seattle, Tacoma and other areas of Washington.”

Frockt’s Senate Bill 5970 would establish a grant program to fund crisis intervention response pilot projects — partnerships between law enforcement agencies and mental health professionals. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs would coordinate the program.

The bill would allow agencies to build crisis intervention response programs that best fit their communities.

“We gave it a lot of flexibility because the model that works in Seattle may not be exactly what they need in Spokane, or in Orting, or in any other jurisdiction,” Frockt said. “Different areas have different needs, and the local communities and agencies know those needs better than we do.”

Frockt worked closely with the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to develop this measure. Both that agency and the Association of Washington Cities support the bill.

The Seattle Police Department in 2014 implemented a Crisis Intervention Program. Five officers working within the unit have special crisis intervention training, and respond to calls with a civilian mental health professional. Frockt rode along with this unit last year to observe their efforts.

The department responded to 9,154 crisis incidents in a one-year period, according to a report. About 20 percent of these crisis contacts resulted in referrals to community or social services. About 31 percent resulted in emergent detention, and about 11 percent resulted in voluntary committal. Only about 8 percent resulted in arrests.

SB 5970 was approved unanimously by the Senate. The bill now proceeds to the House for consideration.