New Jersey sheriff apologizes for racist comments, but won't heed calls for his resignation

EMBED </>More Videos

Derick Waller reports that Michael Saudino has no plans to resign.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and other state leaders are calling for the resignation of Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino after he was allegedly caught on tape making racist remarks, but the sheriff thus far is refusing to step down.

Murphy demanded Thursday that Saudino resign after WNYC broke the story.

On the tape, Saudino is heard making racist remarks against black people and about Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who is Sikh.

"If that is, in fact, his voice, and the comments are -- if you hear those comments -- they are comments that (Lieutenant Governor) Sheila (Oliver) and I and our entire administration find completely utterly unacceptable," Murphy said. "Inconsistent with not just our values, but New Jersey values, American values, and there is no choice as to the step that needs to be taken."

According to WNYC, the recording was taped in January, on the day of Murphy's inauguration.

Saudino is heard discussing Murphy's speech, saying, "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 (expletive) they want, smoke their marijuana, do this, do that, and don't worry about it. You know, we'll tie the hands of cops."

Moments later, Saudino claims Murphy appointed Grewal solely because of "the turban," and he also questions if the reason Oliver has never been married is because she's gay.

Grewal released the following statement Thursday:

"I have now listened to the recording obtained by WNYC. If that's in fact Sheriff Saudino's voice, then he should resign immediately. I've got thick skin and I've been called far worse. But the comments about the African-American community are wrong, racist, and hurtful. The comments about our Lieutenant Governor are inappropriate and homophobic. New Jersey and Bergen County deserve better."

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco released the following statement:

"Having worked with the Sheriff for years, I am shocked and disappointed to hear these comments. 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."

Saudino released a statement apologizing for the comments, claiming they are not representative of who he is as a public servant, but he says he will not resign. Here is his full statement:

"At this time, I would like to offer my sincere apology to the people of Bergen County for the insensitive recorded remarks that were made public today. These remarks are not representative of the person that I am and they are in no way consistent with the manner in which I have conducted my life personally and as a law enforcement professional with over 46 years of service to the residents of Bergen County. During my time as the Bergen County Sheriff, I have worked hard to successfully increase the diversity of the membership in the Bergen County Sheriff's Department. This increased diversity has been accomplished while working hand-in-hand with the members and leadership of our minority communities in Bergen County. In an effort to repair the damage to the friendships that I have built with these communities, I have reached out directly to several respected leaders in the communities I have offended and I have personally offered my apologies and I have asked for their forgiveness and for their communities' forgiveness. Going forward, I will continue to treat everyone with the respect and dignity that is deserved by all and to be diligent in my duty to protect and defend the rights of all our residents."

----------
* More New Jersey news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Related Topics:
politicssheriffracismphil murphyBergen County
(Copyright ©2018 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)