Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson's refusal to let county Auditor Renee Tidwell inside the property room where jail inmates' belongings are stored is puzzling.As a former police public information officer, Anderson should have known public reaction to news that he prohibited another county official from doing her job wouldn't be positive.It sure makes the sheriff look like he's hiding something.In Tarrant County, the auditor serves as the county's chief financial officer and has handled the county treasurer duties since that office was abolished by constitutional amendment in 1983. The auditor, who is appointed by the district judges, is responsible for auditing books and grants in all county departments. Some of those reviews are statutorily required, but the auditor has the authority to initiate others.A non-mandated audit can be no less valuable than one state law requires. The auditor's office works as an internal watchdog over government spending and property. Audit findings can strengthen county operations and assist in making sure taxpayers are getting the best performance and value for their dollars.Anderson, who has been sheriff for 12 years, said Wednesday during a phone interview that the auditor's request to review the custodial procedures in the property room is the first one ever made during his time in office. He said he's not sure what motivated it.While auditors were given complete access to areas associated with handling cash, the sheriff cited what he called the audit staff's lack of understanding of jail operations in refusing to open the property room.If Tidwell wanted to make a fuss, she could go to court to request a writ of mandamus ordering Anderson to unlock that door. She'd likely get it but said Tuesday that she is not interested in pursuing the issue further.Anderson may have legitimate concerns about some of the steps Tidwell suggested in an initial report. Currently, for example, when the department logs in an inmate's jewelry the description on the log sheet is generic: gold ring, white stone. Tidwell is requesting more definitive information in order to establish the ring's value."My people aren't gemologists," Anderson said. "They can't tell by looking if it's a real diamond or cubic zirconium."Anderson said his department handles 70,000 property transactions a year. Inmates who claim they have missing property file reports that go to a Risk Management Board for review.In the 24 months ending Feb. 15, inmates filed 35 claims. The board paid out $1,261.50 on nine of them, according to a Wednesday report in the Star-Telegram. The rest were dismissed.Tidwell told commissioners during Tuesday's court session that it is sometimes difficult for the board to make decisions on reimbursements because of problems with incomplete or missing paperwork.Anderson said Wednesday that losing even a dollar's worth of someone's personal property is not good, but the county reimbursement of about $600 a year is largely because of the antiquated system used to store the effects. Bags are torn open; a shoe or a belt gets separated from the owner's bag.Anderson's bigger problem may be the unanswered question: What was the big deal? He could have let the auditors look at the property room, listened to their recommendations and then said they are too costly or too time-consuming, or not a safe practice.Of course, if something bad did come from not initiating recommended changes, it wouldn't be the auditor on the hot seat. It would be the sheriff. Maybe that's what Anderson is concerned about.It would be a shame if tension between the sheriff and other county officials is rising. Taxpayers lived through tainted relationships under Anderson's predecessor, David Williams. For the sake of Tarrant County taxpayers, Anderson shouldn't stray from the cooperation and communication that was such a welcome relief when he was first elected sheriff in 2000.