Arraignment delayed for Redwood City officer

A former Redwood City police officer who allegedly used a computer tracking system to monitor his estranged daughter’s whereabouts while on duty had his arraignment delayed Thursday.

Barry Finch, 55, was a Redwood City police officer for five years until he allegedly began using a computer database in April 2006 to repeatedly track the address and information of his daughter’s boyfriend, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. The database system is routinely used by law enforcement officers and prosecutors and maintained by state officials and the Department of Motor Vehicles as a reference for contact information and background.

Finch, who now lives in Los Banos in Merced County, faces 18 misdemeanor counts of unauthorized possession or access to a state record. Finch allegedly used the database to track his estranged daughter’s boyfriend for a period of up to six months, Wagstaffe said.

A criminal investigation was launched around the end of last year after Finch’s daughter wondered how her parents knew her whereabouts after receiving a call from her mother. She subsequently contacted the Police Department to complain, Wagstaffe said.

Finch faces six months in prison for each offense, which would total nine years, Wagstaffe said. He does not have a criminal history and was first hired onto the force in February 2001. It was unclear when or why he retired.

“It’s just an unfortunate thing that happened that’s not newsworthy to anyone else,” said Redwood City police Sgt. Steve Blanc, who refused to provide details and declined comment on how officers access such computer databases.

Wagstaffe said records can be accessed by law enforcement officers as long as the subject has a driver’s license.

Finch is free on his own recognizance. His attorney Bill Rapoport requested a continuance to further talk to his client. Rapoport later declined comment. The arraignment was rescheduled to 9 a.m. on May 23.

bfoley@examiner.com

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