Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero says he will continue deny other county law enforcement agencies access to his investigative database because people outside the department had been abusing their previous permission to use the system.
After a lengthy meeting with county supervisors on Friday morning, however, Rivero agreed to ask the state attorney general for an independent investigation of his charges of abuse.
The data includes information from the county's central dispatch center and, among other things, booking records, sex registrant compliance history and calls for service statistics.
The supervisors met in special session to try to broker a deal between Rivero and other county law enforcement agencies, including the Lakeport police and the probation office, after the sheriff cut off access to the system, known as RIMS, this week. Rivero had previously cut off access for investigators in the district attorney's office in 2011.
In both cases, Rivero said outside personnel had exceeded their authority and inappropriately accessed investigative files and even changed information. The sensitive personal information in the records is protected by state law, he said.
"What I am trying to do is protect the public from illegal access to their records," he said after Friday's meeting.
Lakeport Police Chief Brad Rasmussen denied that his officers had done anything wrong and said the sheriff was making it more difficult for his department to do its job.
"This is yet another example of Sheriff Rivero's inability to work collaboratively with allied law enforcement agencies for the betterment of the community and I will not stand by and allow Sheriff Rivero to endanger my staff or my community," Rasmussen told the supervisors.
The supervisors have no legal authority over the sheriff, although they do control his budget. They asked that Rivero and the heads of other departments in the county meet to work out a deal.
"I'm happy to meet with anyone," Rivero said afterward, "but my decision-making process had not changed ... my trust is violated once."
Rivero agreed to ask the attorney general to look into his abuse allegations, but only if District Attorney Don Anderson join him in that request. Anderson's office did not cooperate with a previous investigation, conducted by a private firm paid for by the sheriff's office, that concluded that the district attorney's investigators had improperly accessed the RIMS database on numerous occasions.
Anderson said Friday that he would join in the request and cooperate with state investigators. He said his investigators had accessed the data as a continuation of a long-standing and lawful relationship between his predecessor and the former sheriff, and that the only changes his staff made were to add and update information that might be helpful to sheriff's deputies.
Friday's meeting was the latest turn in a contentious battle between Rivero and his many critics, who accuse him of being high-handed, overly aggressive and uncooperative. They particularly point Anderson's assessment that Rivero lied during the investigation of a 2008 shooting incident when he was still a deputy in the department, a finding that could permanently compromise his ability to testify in criminal cases.
The supervisors requested Rivero's resignation in March, a request he rejected, and a group of critics have begun collecting signatures to force a recall election of the sheriff, who was elected in 2010.