Longtime Sheriff Fatally Shoots Himself in Busy Restaurant

Clifton, NJ – In a shocking turn of events, Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik took his own life in the restroom of a bustling Turkish restaurant in Clifton, New Jersey on January 23. This tragic incident has left the entire community mourning the loss of a well-known figure who dedicated almost three decades to law enforcement. Berdnik’s untimely death comes amidst a turbulent week for his department, as he had recently been forced to lay off 29 corrections officers due to reductions at the county jail.

Just moments before his tragic act, Berdnik had posed for a picture with Huseyin Bayram, one of the restaurant owners. Bayram had received the key to the city of Paterson earlier that day for his efforts during the pandemic. Berdnik’s suicide has left the community in disbelief, as he was widely respected and had served as county sheriff since 2011, winning re-election for a fifth three-year term in November 2022.

Throughout his career, Berdnik demonstrated a strong commitment to his community. He was involved in various heroic acts, including saving three individuals from a burning building in 1991 and apprehending an armed robber in 2003. Despite these accomplishments, Berdnik’s recent struggles within his department and the difficult decision to lay off corrections officers seemed to have taken a toll on him.

Tributes have poured in for Sheriff Berdnik, with local officials and community members expressing their grief and offering condolences to his wife, Monica, and their four adult children. Republican former Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi, who knew Berdnik for many years, described him as “salt of the earth” and noted that their political differences never interfered with their friendship.

Mayor Andre Sayegh of Paterson, where Berdnik served as sheriff, emphasized their outstanding working relationship and remembered Berdnik as always willing to offer assistance, even during times of crises such as recent flooding incidents. Sayegh had just sworn in eight new police officers along with Berdnik the day prior to his tragic death.

The passing of Sheriff Richard Berdnik has left a void in the community, as friends, colleagues, and community members reflect on his contributions and remember him as a dedicated law enforcement professional who cared deeply for those he served. The circumstances surrounding his suicide serve as a reminder of the importance of kindness and support for one another during difficult times.