RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Senate passed a bill that gives localities the authority to establish civilian review boards after a long, heated debate on Tuesday.

The measure, introduced by Sen. Ghazala F. Hashmi (D-Chesterfield), is designed to hold local police departments accountable without imposing a mandate on localities. Instead, it makes the creation of civilian review boards optional. 

While some Virginia localities already have civilian review boards, this legislation grants them subpoena power to compel the production of documents and witnesses. These CRB’s could also produce public reports on policing. 

RELATED: Mandatory or Optional: Marcus Alert and Civilian Review Boards prompt lengthy debates

The House of Delegates passed a version of the bill that requires localities to create a civilian review board by July 2021. The House’s bill would apply to police and sheriff’s departments whereas the Senate bill excludes sheriff’s departments. 

The House and Senate will have to come to a consensus before the bill can go to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk.