By Jessica Albert

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore has extended its contract with ShotSpotter for another year.

The city’s board of estimates on Wednesday approved $759,500 to pay for ShotSpotter, which uses a network of specialized microphones stationed throughout the city to detect and alert police to gunfire.

READ MORE: Baltimore County Officer Opened Fire On Driver Trying To Flee Traffic Stop: Police

Police say the system, which can notify them of gunshots before someone calls 911, helps them respond to shootings and other gunfire incidents faster.

RELATED: Baltimore Police Using ShotSpotter To Combat Gun Violence | Alert System To Be Used To Help Baltimore Police Fight Gun Violence

“(ShotSpotter) uses a series of audio sensors to alert our officers of gunfire,” Baltimore Police Department Chief of Staff Eric Melancon said Wednesday.

When gunshots are fired, officers receive an alert that includes the location of the incident, the number of gunshots and a potential number of shooters.

Since adopting ShotSpotter in May 2018, the Baltimore Police Department has received over 8,500 alerts from the system, 804 of which involved a shooting victim being found.

Officers say they depend on the system, which has been shown to notify police about shootings even when no one calls 911. Lt. Col. John Herzog said that’s been the case in 88% of gunfire incidents.

READ MORE: Shootout Between Cars Speeding In Hampden Rattles Otherwise Quiet Neighborhood

“This means that nobody was calling 911 that shots were being fired, and if it wasn’t for ShotSpotter, we would have never known about these particular incidents,” Herzog said.

Some influential voices, including Mayor Brandon Scott, aren’t sold on the benefits of ShotSpotter, who called himself the program’s “biggest skeptic.”

Scott said the city is doing research to explore just how effective ShotSpotter is, noting that he also wants to see more buy-in from the community.

“Not just the shots fired incidents but around those particular neighborhoods that it’s happening and how we can all work together to think about the totality,” Scott said.” Not just the gun violence but everything that comes along with it.”

Community members who spoke with WJZ about ShotSpotter shared the mayor’s concerns.

“I think the best way to do it is to prevent the 911 calls from happening, period,” city resident Alijah Johnson said.

MORE NEWS: ‘It’s Probably Everywhere’ Concern Grows About Omicron Covid Variant In Maryland As Positivity Rate Jumps Above 5%; Hogan To Speak Wednesday

The funding approved Wednesday will keep the ShotSpotter program in place until next July.

Jessica Albert