APPLE VALLEY — San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies here are participating in a body-worn camera pilot program approved by County Supervisors last spring.
The $122,000 contract with Georgia-based Utility Associates Inc., approved on March 7, provided 70 cameras for the Apple Valley and Highland sheriff’s stations.
The cameras were officially rolled out here Sept. 17, according to Capt. Frank Bell. The pilot program is expected to continue until September 2018.
“Apple Valley has deployed 35 cameras, which covers all of patrol and investigations,” Bell said. The remaining 35 cameras were deployed at the Highland station.
The cameras are worn inside the uniform and snapped into place, with a hole cut in the center of the chest, according to previous Daily Press reports. Deputies can activate their camera with three taps — four taps and they’re off. A Bluetooth wristband also provides additional control.
Captured footage is sent to Amazon cloud storage and can then be replayed by station captains, watch commanders or any other authorized personnel, or the footage can be watched in real time, providing authorities with a unique ability to see on-the-ground incidents as they occur.
The Sheriff’s Department previously equipped deputies in Victorville and Rancho Cucamonga with cameras between February 2012 and May 2013, but the experiment was met with mixed results.
Calls to revisit a pilot program grew louder after a television news camera captured deputies beating Apple Valley resident Francis Pusok following a wild horseback chase in April 2015.
It’s apparently too early to tell assess the results of the current program. Bell said the station hasn’t yet received any feedback from the public, but personnel using the cameras seem pleased.
“The deputies seem to like them,” Bell said by email Dec. 21.
The contract spans 18 months to allow for groundwork to be laid before the cameras were deployed, and includes a post-deployment evaluation process, according to previous Daily Press reports.