A New Jersey sheriff running for reelection this November has resigned after a recording of him making racist remarks about black people and the state’s South Asian attorney general was published by WNYC.
As WNYC reports, the recording captures a Jan. 16 conversation in which Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino, a Democrat, reports back to colleagues what recently-elected New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, said in his inauguration 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.”
Saudino’s dumbassery didn’t stop there. Shortly after making derogatory comments about “the blacks,” he referred to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, a Sikh American, as “the turban.”
Later in the same recording, Saudino admitted that he broke a “rule” concerning corrections officers and asked if Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver was gay “because she’s never been married.”
The recording was shared anonymously with WNYC for fear of retribution against the source’s family.
On Thursday night, Saudino confirmed it was his voice on the recording in a written statement, apologizing to the citizens of Bergen County for his “insensitive” remarks and insisting that his comments “are not representative of the person that I am.”
He also pointed to his efforts to “successfully increase” diversity within 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,” Saudino wrote.
So, you know, he’s hired black people before. Fantastic.
Saudino initially ignored calls from his fellow Democratic party members to resign before reversing course on Friday. As NJ.com reports, Saudino, a three-term sheriff, had served 46 years in law enforcement, and currently oversees about 600 employees and a budget of $79.8 million. According to an earlier WNYC report, “the majority of the inmates at the Bergen County Jail are now immigrants arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New York and held as part of a contract that brings the county about $1.4 million a month.”
The jail also upholds outdated and draconian detention standards for those detained—they’re not allowed to hug their children during visits, for instance, as part of a ban on “contact visits,” WNYC reports.
In addition, Saudino is being sued by former employees, NJ.com reports, for allegations that include discrimination. The New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association, the police union representing Bergen County’s police officers, released a statement last Friday saying it had tried for months to warn of Saudino’s “discriminatory character.”
But hey, at least the sheriff’s department is diverse.
Saudino’s photo and bio have already been taken down from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office website.