The sudden demise of Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik has generated a wave of discourse among online communities, as people grapple with the unexpected nature of his passing. The law enforcement officer, whose career spanned several decades, was discovered deceased at a Turkish restaurant in Clifton, New Jersey. A preliminary investigation by authorities suggests that his death was self-inflicted.
Sheriff Berdnik, a familiar figure in New Jersey’s law enforcement circles, had held the position of county sheriff since 2011, having been re-elected only last year, in 2022. His untimely death occurred at Toros Restaurant, where, according to sources familiar with the matter, he took his own life.
The restaurant was the scene of a swift response by police following the incident, with customers and staff having heard the sound of the gunshot from within the establishment. Berdnik’s career prior to his tenure as sheriff included an extensive period of service with the Clifton Police Department where he dedicated nearly 30 years before ascending to the role of county sheriff.
His passing has elicited responses from numerous public officials, including Governor Phil Murphy and Senator Cory Booker, who extended their heartfelt condolences. The loss was described by New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin as an “incredibly tragic” event for the state.
The period leading up to Sheriff Berdnik’s death has been challenging for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, which is facing the prospect of laying off 29 officers due to the impending closure of the county jail. The department had also been dealing with the recent arrests of two sergeants and a correctional officer on charges related to the alleged assault of an inmate and an attempt to cover it up.
Amidst these tumultuous events, the owner of Toros Restaurant, Huseyin Bayram, was recognized for the establishment’s philanthropic efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic with a key to the city of Paterson. The restaurant chain, with locations also in Paterson and Montclair, had notably donated thousands of meals to those in need and healthcare workers.
Richard H. Berdnik’s tenure as the 49th Sheriff of Passaic County began on the first day of 2011, following a distinguished career in the Clifton Police Department. During his time with the department, he rose through the ranks to command positions including the juvenile division and the SWAT team, earning numerous commendations for his service.
On taking office as sheriff, Berdnik undertook a comprehensive review of departmental operations, implementing efficiencies and technological advancements. His focus on enhancing training and operational effectiveness mirrored his commitment to supporting local law enforcement in tackling crime.
The sheriff’s tenure saw foundational improvements across all major divisions of the agency, including Police, Corrections, and Courthouse Security. His leadership was marked by a dedication to the betterment of law enforcement practices within the county.
The community, including former Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi, has been voicing their profound sorrow at the loss of Sheriff Berdnik, remembering him as a remarkable individual whose absence will be deeply felt. Tributes and messages of sympathy continue to pour in for the bereaved family during this difficult time.