Longtime Country Sheriff Kills Himself in Busy Restaurant

Passaic, New Jersey – The Passaic County Sheriff, Richard Berdnik, was discovered dead in an apparent suicide on January 23 at Toros, a renowned Turkish restaurant in Clifton. As authorities investigate the circumstances surrounding his tragic death, the community mourns the loss of a respected law enforcement figure who dedicated nearly 30 years to serving and protecting others.

Eyewitnesses at the bustling eatery reported that Berdnik entered the restroom only to hear a gunshot moments later. Law enforcement sources have since confirmed that the sheriff’s cause of death was suicide. The incident has raised numerous questions about the state of Berdnik’s mental well-being prior to his untimely demise.

Sheriff Berdnik, who had been in office since 2011 and recently secured his fifth three-year term in November 2022, was a revered figure in Passaic County. Over the course of his career, he engaged in acts of heroism, including rescuing individuals from a burning building and apprehending an armed robber. However, recent challenges within his department, notably the need to lay off 29 corrections officers due to jail reductions, appeared to have weighed heavily on him.

The news of Berdnik’s suicide has triggered an outpouring of tributes from local officials and community members. Fondly remembered as “salt of the earth,” the sheriff’s friendship with former Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi transcended political differences. Similarly, Mayor Andre Sayegh of Paterson highlighted Berdnik’s unwavering support, even during moments of crisis such as recent flooding incidents. The tragic incident occurred the day after Berdnik and Mayor Sayegh swore in eight new police officers.

The passing of Sheriff Richard Berdnik leaves a void in the community, prompting reflection on his significant contributions as a dedicated law enforcement professional. Law enforcement agencies must recognize the importance of mental well-being among their personnel, ensuring they receive the necessary support systems to navigate the complex challenges inherent in their roles.