Veteran New Jersey sheriff found dead in restaurant bathroom, reports say – 24 Global News | Latest International Breaking News Today

Veteran New Jersey sheriff found dead in restaurant bathroom, reports say – Latest International Breaking News Today

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A long-serving New Jersey sheriff died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a restaurant restroom on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. 

Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik walked into a restroom at Toros, a well-known Turkish restaurant located on Hazel Street in Clifton, at around 3:30 p.m., shortly before other patrons heard a gunshot, Paterson Press and NorthJersey.com both reported.

A few minutes later, a call went out over the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office radio system and several siren-flashing police vehicles descended on the scene, the outlets reported.

Richard Berdnik

Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik was found dead Tuesday, according to reports. (Passaic County Sheriff’s Office)

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The county’s sheriff’s office declined to comment on the incident. Passaic County is the eighth-largest county in New Jersey and is located in the northern part of the state.

He was in his mid-60s and was married to his wife, Monica. The couple had four adult children.

The incident came just days after three Passaic County sheriff’s officers were arrested on charges involving an alleged beating of a detainee at the county jail. Berdnik had also planned on laying off 29 correctional officers. 

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Berdnik had been sheriff of the county since 2011 and was re-elected in 2022 for a fifth term, according to the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office website. 

The scene outside the restaurant where Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik shot himslef

The scene outside the restaurant where Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik shot himself, according to reports. (Fox 5)

The website credits him with reforming and streamlining all aspects of the sheriff’s office, where Berdnik focused on improving technology, training and overall operations of the agency, resulting in an increase in enforcement of criminal activity.

Prior to becoming sheriff, Berdnik had a distinctive 28-year career with the Clifton Police Department, where he served as the commander of the juvenile division and the SWAT team, receiving numerous citations for exceptional service and many certifications in various law enforcement functions.

Governor Phil Murphy said in a post on X that he was deeply saddened to hear of Berdnik’s passing.

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“For more than four decades, Sheriff Berdnik served the people of New Jersey – from his days as a police officer on the streets of Clifton to his five consecutive terms as the 49th Sheriff of Passaic County,” Murphy said via a statement attached to the post. 

“Every single day, Sheriff Berdnik earned the trust of his constituents in Passiac 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 frm member of law enforcement.”

“Tammy (Murphy’s wife) and I were blessed to have counted Sheriff Berdnik as a close friend. We will miss him — and his leadership — dearly.”

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin described Berdnik’s passing as an “unfathomable loss for New Jersey.”

Toros Restaurant front

Toros restaurant in New Jersey, where the incident took place. (Google Maps)

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Meanwhile, former Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark told NorthJersey.com that he was stunned to learn of Berdnik’s death.

“Rich always had a laid-back demeanor, truly cared about law enforcement, but was kind and caring at the same time,” Kazmark said. “He was so even-tempered. I think that makes this even harder to understand.”

“We never truly know how people feel inside, what is going on that could tragically impact them. It puts everything in perspective and shows we need to be kind and care about one another even more,” Kazmark added. “We lost a great sheriff and a really good man.”

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

-24 Global News | Latest International Breaking News Today
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