Bergen County, New Jersey sheriff Michael Saudino — as well as four of his undersheriffs — just resigned after racist remarks came to light.
OFFICIAL! Bergem Sheriff resigns over racially and homophobic remarks. Top staff goes as well, based on @WNYC & @mattkatz00 report @NBCNewYork @NewJerseyOAG @GovMurphy @jamestedesco93 pic.twitter.com/ckl1cP5xHO
— Brian Thompson (@brian4NY) September 21, 2018
Saudino’s resignation came on the heels of a story by WNYC’s Matt Katz, who obtained a secret recording of the Bergen County sheriff on January 16 — the day New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was inaugurated. Saudino is heard commiserating about Gov. Murphy’s inauguration speech, in which he promised to protect immigrants, make law enforcement agencies more accountable to the public, and to legalize marijuana.
“He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state…better criminal justice reform,” Saudino said. “Christ almighty, in other words let the blacks come in, do whatever the fuck they want, smoke their marijuana, do this do that, and don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll tie the hands of cops.”
Saudino — who is a Democrat (but was elected as a Republican in 2010) — was also heard criticizing Murphy’s appointment of Gurbir Grewal, who is a Sikh, to be the 61st Attorney General of New Jersey.
“[Murphy] did it because of the turban,” Saudino is heard saying in the recording.
The sheriff is also heard opining that New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver may be gay in a separate recording, since she’s never been married. Oliver called Saudino’s remarks “ignorant.”
As Katz noted, Bergen County — which is on the other side of the George Washington Bridge connecting New York and New Jersey — is not only the most populous county in the state, with nearly one million residents, but it is also fairly diverse. U.S. Census data shows that Bergen County is approximately 20 percent Hispanic, 17 percent Asian, and seven percent black.
“Having worked with the sheriff for years, I am shocked and disappointed to hear these comments,” stated Bergen County executive Jim Tedesco. “Bergen County’s diversity is our strength and his statements are clearly inconsistent with our values. In the best interest of the public, he should step down.”
You can listen to the recordings of Saudino’s remarks below, courtesy of WNYC:
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.