Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino

Bergen County Sheriff's Office

Bergen County Sheriff Recorded Making Racist Remarks Resigns

September 21, 2018 - 8:04 pm

NEWARK, N.J. (WCBS 880/AP) -- Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino has resigned amid calls for him to step down after a recording surfaced of him making disparaging comments about blacks and the state's first Sikh attorney general.

The resignations of Saudino and four undersheriffs are effective immediately, according to a statement from the Bergen County Sheriff's Office.

The four undersheriffs were seen as allies of Saudino, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported. A source tells WCBS 880 at least one of the undersheriffs was also heard on the recording.

WNYC radio obtained the tape from a person who was present. It was recorded on the day of Gov. Phil Murphy's inauguration in January.

On it, Saudino is heard saying Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was appointed because of "the turban.'' He also said Murphy's policies would allow blacks to "come in, do whatever the (expletive) they want, smoke their marijuana, do this do that.''
In a statement, Murphy called the comments "appalling." He and others, including Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, had called for Saudino to step down.

"That's not the person that I know in Mike Saudino. Forget about Sheriff Saudino, but Mike Saudino, and that's the part that's hard for me as a friend and somebody that's known him for so long to be able to have to talk about this. But there's no excuse for what he said, right? And I said to him, 'I know that you're saying you're sorry, but you said it,'" Tedesco said.

"He managed to malign so many people in one paragraph that it was actually breathtaking," said State Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

Saudino apologized for the comments Thursday evening but at the time didn't say he would resign.
"In an effort to repair the damage to the friendships that I have built with these communities I have reached out directly to several respected leaders in the communities I have offended and I have personally offered my apologizes and I have asked for their forgiveness and for their communities’ forgiveness," he initially said. "Going forward I will continue to treat everyone with the respect and dignity that is deserved by all and to be diligent in my duty to protect and defend the rights of all our residents."

Pending the appointment of an interim sheriff by Murphy, Sheriff’s Office Chief Kevin Pell will be the officer-in-charge of the sheriff’s department’s operations and Bergen County Sheriff’s Office Warden Steve Ahrendt will be the officer-in-charge of the Bergen County jail’s operations, the office said.

Murphy, in a statement, said he intends to appoint an interim sheriff "who can rebuild the public’s trust."

“With the resignation of Sheriff Saudino, we can now begin the process of restoring faith in the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office after so much of it was so quickly eroded," Murphy said. "And, we can begin the process of ensuring that the bigoted beliefs displayed by the former Sheriff are not given shelter in any corner of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office – now or in the future."

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)