New Jersey Sheriff Resigns Over Racial Remarks Against Sikh Attorney General

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino resigned after he was heard making racist comments against Sikh Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and blacks in recordings released by radio station WNYC.


A New Jersey sheriff who was caught on tape making several homophobic and racist remarks, including  those against Gurbir Grewal, the first ever Sikh Attorney General in the United States, and black people, has resigned. Four undersheriffs also submitted their resignations, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office announced on Sept. 21.

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino stepped down from the post effective immediately, due to the political pressure that the remarks caused, U.S. media reported.  

The resignations came after a recording released by WNYC radio on Sept. 20 revealed derogatory remarks made by Saudino, which were recorded on Jan. 16, following the inauguration of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, which Saudino attended.

In the recording, Saudino is heard talking about the appointments made from Bergen County by Murphy. When an undersheriff said that Grewal hails from Bergen County, Saudino replied, “He didn’t do that because of Bergen County,” adding, “He did that because of the turban.”

Saudino is also heard saying about the governor’s speech, “He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state… better criminal justice reform. 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.”   

Grewal responded to the issue, asking for Saudino’s resignation in a tweet.

After the recording went public, Murphy too made a statement calling for Saudino’s resignation. “Without question, the comments made on that recording are appalling, and anyone using racist, homophobic, and hateful language is unfit for public office, he said. “If indeed that is Sheriff Saudino’s voice on the recording, he must resign.” 

Saudino made a public a public apology, saying his comments “are not representative of the person that I am.” He referred to the manner with which he has conducted his life personally and as a law enforcement officer.   

With Saudino’s resignation, Murphy said that faith was restored in the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office. “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. 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,” he said in a statement. 

“I fully intend to appoint an interim sheriff who can rebuild the public’s trust. The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office is home to countless dedicated officers who no doubt were as horrified and disappointed by their former boss’s comments as we were. This is an opportunity for our Administration to work with them, and with the community, to instill new leadership that upholds our shared New Jersey values of inclusion and respect for all.” 

Grewal called the resignation an “important first step” in repairing the relationship between the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office and the community. “We cannot allow the actions of a few officials to taint the entire law enforcement community. The overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers in Bergen County and across New Jersey are honorable public servants who care deeply about the work they do and the way they do it. Their good work – performed day-in, day-out – is ultimately what will help repair the damage brought about by Sheriff Saudino’s highly inappropriate comments,” Grewal said. 

Earlier this year, two New Jersey radio hosts were suspended for 10 days after making derogatory comments about Grewal, including calling him “turban man.” 

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