Passaic County sheriff dies in apparent suicide at Clifton restaurant: law enforcement sources

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Passaic County sheriff found dead in apparent suicide in restaurant
Authorities have confirmed that Passaic County sheriff Richard Berdnik has fatally shot himself.

CLIFTON, New Jersey (WABC) -- A Passaic County sheriff was found dead inside a restaurant in Clifton, New Jersey Tuesday in an apparent suicide, according to law enforcement sources.

NewsCopter 7 was over Toros Restaurant where sources say Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik killed himself.

He has been county sheriff since 2011, and was just re-elected in 2022.

He spent nearly three decades in the Clifton Police Department.

News of his death sent shockwaves through the state, with some of New Jersey's top lawmakers expressing their condolences including New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Senator Cory Booker.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik," Murphy said in a statement. "For more than four decades, Sheriff Berdnik courageously 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. Every single day, Sheriff Berdnik earned the trust of his constituents in Passaic 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 from members of law enforcement. Tammy and I were blessed to have counted Sheriff Berdnik as a close friend. We will miss him - and his leadership - dearly. And we are sending our prayers and condolences to Sheriff Berdnik's wife, Monica, their four adult children, and the entire team at the Passaic County Sheriff's Office."

The sheriff shot himself in a restroom inside a local restaurant, officials said.

"My deepest condolences go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik. Sheriff Berdnik was a longtime public servant with a distinguished career in law enforcement who rose to become sheriff of his home county," Booker said in a statement. "He leaves behind a legacy of sacrifice and service. His passing is a terrible loss to the county and state he served for so many years. My thoughts are with his loved ones in this time of grief."

Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari also released a statement on Tuesday:

"I want to extend my sincere condolences and my deepest sympathies to Sheriff Richard Berdnik, his family, and his many dear friends and colleagues during this tragic time. I've known Sheriff Berdnik for decades since his time with the Clifton Police Department and we have both served as Sheriff of our respective counties for five terms. I considered Rich a brother and his loss will leave a void that will never be filled for everyone who was lucky enough to know him. Rest in peace Sheriff Berdnik."

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide - free, confidential help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call or text the national lifeline at 988.

Find support for issues with mental health, drugs, or alcohol through the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

New Jersey officers can also find help through Cop2Cop, 24-hour peer support program for NJ Law Enforcement Officers and their families. Call 1-866-Cop2Cop or 1-866-267-2267 or reach out via email on the Cop2Cop website.


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