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N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy Calls for Local Sheriff’s Resignation After Racist Remarks Caught on Tape

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is calling on a local sheriff to resign after secret tapings of the cop making racist and disparaging remarks about Black people were uncovered.

The tapes, obtained by WNYC, also caught Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino making bigoted statements about Attorney General Gurbir Grewel, who is Sikh. The comments in question were recorded Jan. 16 following Murphy’s gubernatorial inauguration.

Gov. Phil Murphy

Sheriff Michael Saudino, who’s up for reelection next year, made no mention of plans to resign. (Image courtesy of ABC 7 NY)

“Without question, the comments made on that tape are appalling … and anyone using racist, homophobic, and hateful language is unfit for public office,” the governor said in a statement Thursday. “If indeed that is Sheriff Saudino’s voice on the recording, he must resign.”

On the tapes, Saudino can be heard making inflammatory remarks to his colleagues about Murphy’s speech that night.

“He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state — better criminal justice reform,” he began.” 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.”

Explaining why he thought Murphy appointed Grewel to attorney general, Saudino griped, “He didn’t do that to help Bergen County, he did that because of the turban.”

According to WNYC, the recordings were given to them by a source who was in the room when Saudino made the comments. The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said the conversation took place inside a county office building and that two undersheriffs were also present.

Grewel said he was shocked by the comments, seeing as he and Saudino knew each other when they held the top law enforcement spots in Bergen County.

“On a personal level what he said, if it’s true and accurate, is disappointing, because I think having worked with him for two years he would know better than most that I have law enforcement credentials,” Grewal said, adding that he’s been a county prosecutor for most of his career.

“And that’s why I got this nomination, not simply because of the symbol of my religion,” he added.

In a separate recording, Saudino is heard questioning if Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver is gay, “because she’s never been married.” Oliver resonded by calling the sheriff “ignorant” and “a relic of an era gone by.”

Saudino, who’s white and Democrat, has since apologized for his remarks but made no mention of leaving — despite increasing pressure from fellow Democrats for him to resign.

“These remarks are not representative of the person that I am, and they’re in no way consistent with the manner in which I’ve conducted my life … as a law enforcement professional,” Saudino wrote, citing his efforts to increase the diversity of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department.

Moving forward, he promised to “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 residents.”

Saudino is seeking re-election for his third term next year.


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