New Jersey Sheriff resigns after racial comments toward Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, others are leaked

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Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, with New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. (Photo: Twitter)

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino has resigned after audio recordings were leaked last week in which he made racial and xenophobic comments towards Indian American Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and African American Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver.

In the recording, which was published by WNYC, an affiliate of the National Public Radio, Saudino can be heard talking to his colleagues and making nasty comments about New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s inaugural speech in January, according to a Washington Post report.

In the recording, Saudino attacks Murphy saying that he appointed Grewal as the first Sikh attorney general in the country, only because of his religion.

“He didn’t do that to help Bergen County, he did that because of the Turban,” Saudino says in the recording.

Saudino also said that he isn’t sure of Oliver’s sexuality as she is still unmarried.

In addition, Saudino attacked Murphy on the issue of marijuana in the state saying, “Christ almighty, in other words let the blacks come in, do whatever … they want, smoke their marijuana, do this, do that, and don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll tie the hands of cops.”

In a statement, Murphy has said that “anyone using racist, homophobic, and hateful language is unfit for public office” and “if indeed that is Sheriff Saudino’s voice on the recording, he must resign,” while in a joint statement, the Mayor and Council of Bergen County have also called for Saudino’s resignation.

According to a TapInto report, Saudino’s resignation was announced in a statement posted on the Bergen County Sheriff Department’s Facebook page.

It reads:

The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office announces that effective this date and at this time Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino has submitted his resignation as the Sheriff of Bergen County.

Additionally, Executive Undersheriff George Buono, Undersheriff Robert Colaneri, Undersheriff Brian Smith and Undersheriff Joseph Hornyak have also submitted their resignations effective immediately.

Pending the appointment of an interim sheriff by Governor Phil 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.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Grewal says “Sheriff Saudino’s resignation is an important first step in repairing the relationship between the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office and the diverse communities it serves.”

Saudino was first elected as a Republican before he switched parties and won a re-election in 2016 as a Democrat.

Saudino has apologized to the “people of Bergen County for the insensitive recorded remarks,” saying that they “are not representative of the person” he is and claims to increase the diversity of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department while reaching out to the communities he has offended and promises to “continue to treat everyone with the respect and dignity that is deserved by all,” according to TapInto.

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