Former officer gets probation sentence

A retired Redwood City police officer received two years of probation Wednesday for allegedly using a computer tracking system to monitor his estranged daughter’s whereabouts while on duty.

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 procure information of his daughter’s boyfriend, Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Finch, who now lives in Los Baños in Merced County, plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of obtaining confidential information in a wrongful manner. Finch allegedly used the database for a period of up to six months, Wagstaffe said.

Finch was not in court Wednesday. His attorney, Bill Rapoport, declined to give details. “I would usually be more forthcoming, but this matter is too sensitive,” Rapoport said.

The database system is routinely used by law enforcement officialsand maintained by state officials and the Department of Motor Vehicles as a reference for contact information and background, Wagstaffe said. It is a misdemeanor to use it for personal gain, he said. Wagstaffe added that records can be accessed by law enforcement officers as long as a subject of the database probe has a driver’s license.

A criminal investigation was launched around the end of last year after Finch’s daughter received a phone call from her mother and wondered how her parents knew of her whereabouts. The daughter subsequently contacted Redwood City police to complain, which prompted the investigation, Wagstaffe said.

Prior to the charges, Finch did not have a criminal history. He was first hired onto the force in February 2001. It was unclear when or why he retired. Redwood City police spokesman Capt. Chris Cesena declined to comment Wednesday, noting the matter was in the hands of the District Attorney’s Office. “He was an officer and now he’s retired,” he said.

Finch was ordered by the court to conduct 50 hours of community service and to not contact his daughter’s boyfriend, whose name was not disclosed.

bfoley@examiner.com

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