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LITTLE ROCK—Little Rock officials have approved a contract to install a gunshot detection system that police say will help them better investigate gun violence.

The city's Board of Directors unanimously approved a $290,000 agreement with ShotSpotter last week. The two-year contract is funded by the 2017 Technology Innovation for Public Safety grant from the Department of Justice.

ShotSpotter immediately alerts police with a time stamp and geographic location when a shot is fired within range of one of the system's small acoustic devices. The new system will give police a better chance of locating people involved in a shooting before they leave the scene, according to Capt. Ty Tyrrell.

The system will cover a 2-square-mile area of the city. Police will install 15-20 acoustic devices per square mile on residential buildings as well as taller, commercial ones and light poles. Police haven't released the exact locations of each sensor or what they look like.

"I don't know, and I wouldn't tell you," Tyrrell said. "We don't want people to know and be able to avoid shooting near one."

Only about 20 percent of gunshots are reported to police, according to Tyrrell. The system can help officers investigate gun violence without requiring participation from people in those areas, but Tyrrell said it won't replace working to maintain a relationship with the community.

"I think we start building trust when we start being successful," he said.

ShotSpotter is used in more than 85 cities, according to the company.

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