Omaha-Council Bluffs is the first community in the region to begin installing a new type of technology that will pinpoint where gunshots ring out in the metro area. Omaha Police Officer Jacob Bettin says the gunfire detection system uses sensors that are being placed all over town in undisclosed locations.

“The system identifies the fact that shots have been fired and then notifies law enforcement and informs them of where to go,” Bettin says. It can apparently differentiate between gunshots and other loud noises — from fireworks to engine backfires. Much like satellites in the GPS system triangulate a location, this system will use the same technique to let police know the exact location of gunshots.

He says, “That allows us to get to the area more efficiently than waiting for the public and allows us to know with greater detail where that incident is occurring and how to safely respond.” Bettin says the technology is called the Shot Spotter and it’s being installed using a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Now, we’re going to have the ability to get there sooner and potentially be able to make an arrest,” he says, “regardless of if it’s a simple shots fired or destruction of property or even a homicide.” Bettin believes they can make more arrests and help reduce gun crime by using this technology.

The system, once operational, will detect where a shot is fired more quickly and accurately than someone who calls 9-1-1. The system should go online later this month.