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San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain gathers information while speaking with Candelario Zuniga, who reported his daughters, aged 17 and 15, as runaways at his Muscoy home on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. Strain, equipped with a uniform-mounted body camera, is part of the department’s initiative to enhance transparency and accountability. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain gathers information while speaking with Candelario Zuniga, who reported his daughters, aged 17 and 15, as runaways at his Muscoy home on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. Strain, equipped with a uniform-mounted body camera, is part of the department’s initiative to enhance transparency and accountability. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
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When San Bernardino County sheriff’s Deputy Saylor Strain turns on his new uniform-mounted camera, just about everyone is on their best behavior.

Well, except for one tiny dog.

Strain, accompanied by a Southern California ɫ̳ Group reporter and photographer during a recent patrol shift near San Bernardino, had nothing but praise for the technology, which the department adopted in September at two stations and has now rolled out to all but the Needles and Highland stations.

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a uniform-mounted body camera, jots down information while assisting a parent who reported his teenage daughters as runaways at their Muscoy home on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain clips his body...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain clips his body camera to his uniform before leaving the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Central Station in San Bernardino, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, with his body...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, with his body camera in view, makes a call while documenting the report of the runaway girls outside their Muscoy home in San Bernardino County on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • A San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy, equipped with a uniform-mounted...

    A San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy, equipped with a uniform-mounted camera, drives in a patrol unit in Muscoy on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a uniform-mounted body camera, calls the school while assisting Candelario Zuniga, right, who reported his daughters, aged 17 and 15, as runaways at his Muscoy home on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a uniform-mounted body camera, takes down license information as he conducts a traffic stop in San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a uniform-mounted body camera, calls the school while assisting Candelario Zuniga, right, who reported his daughters, aged 17 and 15, as runaways at his Muscoy home on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a uniform-mounted body camera, gathers information while assisting a parent who reported his teenage daughters as runaways at their Muscoy home on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain takes a body...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain takes a body camera from the docking station before leaving the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Central Station in San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain gathers information while...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain gathers information while speaking with Candelario Zuniga, who reported his daughters, aged 17 and 15, as runaways at his Muscoy home on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. Strain, equipped with a uniform-mounted body camera, is part of the department’s initiative to enhance transparency and accountability. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain secures his body...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain secures his body camera before departing the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Central Station in San Bernardino, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a uniform-mounted body camera, responds to calls in his patrol unit in San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a body camera, completes a report on missing girls from his patrol car in Muscoy, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, equipped with a uniform-mounted camera, stands outside the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Central Station in San Bernardino before starting his patrol on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, wearing a body...

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Saylor Strain, wearing a body camera, conducts a property check during a response to a civil dispute call in San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • Axon body cameras docked at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s...

    Axon body cameras docked at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Central Station in San Bernardino, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024, as part of the department’s initiative to increase transparency and accountability. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

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There was no timeline for those stations to receive the cameras, said Mara Rodriguez, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.

“I believe my interactions with the public have been better. I feel like people act differently and I get their true selves. And I get the truth … They know they are being filmed,” Strain said.

San Bernardino County’s became one of the last law enforcement agencies in Southern California to buy the cameras after the Board of Supervisors in February approved a five-year, $6.5 million contract with Axon Enterprises to provide 965 cameras as well as other equipment and technical support.

Difficulties in transmitting the video from the High Desert station to the department’s servers in the nation’s largest county by size delayed adopting the technology, Sheriff Shannon Dicus has said. That hurdle was overcome by uploading videos to the online cloud.

Strain’s Central station, and the Hesperia station, were the first to deploy the cameras.

Strain, at 27, is a field training officer. He first attended Arlington High in Riverside before graduating from another Riverside high school, Ramona, in 2014. He received a degree in criminal justice from Cal State San Bernardino in 2018. Strain played baseball and was fast, he said, but hitting was another matter.

So Strain spent three years as a sheriff’s explorer and now is in his sixth year as a deputy.

The technology in the cameras has improved to the point where Strain calls them “a career changer.”

No longer do officers have to sit at a computer at the end of their shift and upload videos. Strain showed a wall of docks inside the station where deputies plug in their cameras at the end of their shifts. The docks simultaneously recharge the batteries and upload the videos.

“It saves us time so we can go out and handle calls for service,” he said.

It’s also easy to review a video. Deputies can enter a report number on a computer or their phone and it pops right up. The videos can be searched by a time stamp. The videos also can help refresh a deputy’s memory for when he is called to testify in court.

“It’s like I’m there again,” Strain said. “Being able to review the video, it’s like it happened yesterday.”

All interactions with the public are recorded, even with those who call the cops.

So with a double tap of a button, the red light illuminated and the video rolled when Strain took a report from a Muscoy resident who said his daughters, ages 15 and 16, did not show up for school and were missing.

Candelario Valverde waved his arms animatedly as he told Strain with his limited English that during an argument with his 16-year-old, he grabbed her phone and broke it. He told a reporter that he didn’t mind being videotaped.

“I feel good because I’m going to do a whole report,” Valverde said, pointing to the camera mounted on Strain’s chest. “I agree with that.”

Lolita Harper, executive director of the Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association, said in a videotaped message to union members that the feedback on the cameras has been “overwhelmingly” positive.

“Our members really appreciate having that tool out in the field,” Harper said.

But the mounting hardware has been tearing deputies’ shirts, she said. The department has purchased magnets to mount the hardware, and those should be available in February or March, Rodriguez said.

Aside from the holes in the comfortable, stretchy-but-thin shirts, Strain’s only concern is that he wished they had received the cameras sooner. Although Strain said there have been no complaints against him during his career, other officers have reported that the videos have refuted claims of rudeness or indifference brought by the public.

If the camera hasn’t brought Strain relief from complaints, it has at least brought him comedy relief. That happened a while ago during a traffic stop and was, Strain said, the most notable thing he has filmed.

The driver’s window was open and his hands were on the steering wheel.

“I said, ‘Hi, I’m Deputy …’ and out of nowhere pops up a little Chihuahua into my face,” Strain said.

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