ShotSpotter SecureCampus system installed at Newark high school

NEWARK, Calif. (KTVU) - A technology used to pinpoint gunfire is being used on a high school campus for the first time.

Newark Memorial High School is the first high school in the country with ShotSpotter's SecureCampus technology.

"When there is a school shooting without SecureCampus it's chaos," explained school principal Phil Morales. "It's still chaos. It's scary, but it gives us that immediate information."

The ShotSpotter can differentiate between fireworks, a door closing, and gunfire.

A network of microphones zeros in to give an exact location and alert school officials and police. That helps save time responding.

"God forbid that this technology would ever have to be deployed," said Newark School District Superintendent, Dr. David Marken. "But when it's in place, we believe (a) significant number of lives will be saved."

SecureSchools ShotSpotter wouldn't say how many microphones are on campus, how much the system cost, or who paid for it. The school district will pay a yearly maintenance fee.

"We look at this technology as the next step of student and staff safety," Dr. Marken said. He likened it to a fire alarm and sprinkler system, which rarely have to be used, but are required. "This, to me, is just one more tool to make our campus safe."

The Newark Memorial campus has not had an active shooter situation. The city itself is relatively safe. So why does the school want ShotSpotter on campus? "Because why not," Morales asked. "It's not about the school being unsafe or the culture being so violent. If it happens, we're prepared."

Morales pointed out other schools that have had active shooter situations, like Columbine High School or Sandy Hook Elementary, seemed like safe schools - until they weren't.

"It happens anywhere," Morales said. It comes down to one simple question. "If I'm going to send my student to this school," Morales asked himself. "Do I want to make sure they're safe on campus?" The answer is a resounding "yes".