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Sheriff Dies In Apparent Suicide In Restaurant, One Week After Layoffs And Officers Were Charged In Jail Beating

via Passaic County
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The sheriff of Passaic County, New Jersey, Richard H. Berdnik, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, following a period of turmoil within the sheriff’s department, including layoffs and charges against officers.

Berdnik was a respected figure in New Jersey law enforcement, having served for five terms.

His death comes amidst a challenging time for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, which had recently faced layoffs and allegations of officers beating an inmate.

“I affectionately referred to Richard H. Berdnik as ‘America’s Sheriff.’ He was an exemplary law enforcement leader and a cherished friend. May he rest in eternal peace,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh stated.

“I look back at all our text messages between the two of us. I’ve known him for 14 years,” Sayegh said. “He was an exemplary law enforcement leader, and he was a cherished friend.”

The governor and others expressed deep sadness at the loss, and an investigation into his death is ongoing.

“Every single day, Sheriff Berdnik earned the trust of his constituents in Passaic County, and worked exhaustively to combat criminal activity, modernize the operations of the Sheriff’s Office, and meet the high standard of service we expect from members of law enforcement,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.

“Tammy and I were blessed to have counted Sheriff Berdnik as a close friend. We will miss him — and his leadership — dearly,” he added.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Berdnik family, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and all members of law enforcement touched by this tragedy. We thank you for your prayers and support as we work through the gravity of this loss,” Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said.

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