CLIFTON, N.J. – Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik died by suicide inside a restroom at a New Jersey restaurant Tuesday afternoon, according to sources, the New York Post reported.
Berdnik had a long career in law enforcement. He retired from the Clifton Police Department in New Jersey before being elected sheriff of Passaic County in 2011.
The sheriff reportedly walked into the restroom at Turkish restaurant Toros in Clifton about 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday when other patrons heard a gunshot, and confirmed that he died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, sources told The Post.
His bio on the Passaic County Sheriff’s website provides the following details:
“Prior to becoming Sheriff, Richard Berdnik had a distinctive twenty-eight year career with the Clifton Police Department. Upon retirement, Sheriff Berdnik was the Commander of the Juvenile Division and the SWAT Team; previously, he had served in virtually every position in the agency. During his Clifton career, Sheriff Berdnik received numerous citations for exceptional service and received many certifications in various law enforcement functions.”
Running as a Democrat, he became sheriff and was first sworn into office Jan. 1, 2011. On January 1, 2014, he began his second term.
Continuing, his bio says:
Sheriff Berdnik is a graduate of Clifton High School, New Jersey State Police Academy, FBI National Academy and FBI National Executive Institute. … For nearly thirty years, Richard Berdnik has been married to his wife, Monica Berdnik, who is a pediatric nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson; they have four adult children.
Former Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi said the shooting was heartbreaking, northjersey.com reported.
“I can’t imagine,” Anzaldi said. “Richie was the salt of the earth, my kind of person. My heart breaks for his family.”
The sheriff’s death comes during department turmoil, which includes plans to lay off 29 personnel as a result of the forthcoming closure of the county jail, according to northjersey.com.
Moreover, two sheriff sergeants and a correctional officer were arrested and charged last week for allegedly violating a prisoner’s civil rights during an alleged 2021 assault and cover-up, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said.
The inmate reportedly splashed a mixture containing urine on an officer the day before the alleged unlawful use of force occurred, the feds said.
Anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.