The sheriff of Bergen County, N.J., and four of his senior officers resigned Friday, one day after a recording surfaced of the sheriff making virulently racist comments to his staff.

Sheriff Michael Saudino could be heard bad-mouthing African Americans, the state's Sikh attorney general, and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver in comments recorded in January. The recording, which documented Saudino grousing about Gov. Murphy's inauguration speech, was released Thursday by WNYC.

"[Murphy] talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state, better criminal-justice reform," Saudino said to his staff. "Christ almighty, in other words, let the blacks come in, do whatever … they want, smoke their marijuana, do this, do that, and don't worry about it. You know, we'll tie the hands of cops."

Murphy and state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal had demanded Saudino's resignation after the recording went public. The Bergen County Sheriff's Office made the announcement on Facebook.

The Bergen County Sheriff’s department made the announcement of Saudino’s resignation through Facebook.
The Bergen County Sheriff’s department made the announcement of Saudino’s resignation through Facebook.

Late Friday, Murphy and Grewal issued statements.

Said Murphy: "[W]e can now begin the process of restoring faith in the Bergen County Sheriff's Office after so much of it was so quickly eroded. And, we can begin the process of ensuring that the bigoted beliefs displayed by the former sheriff are not given shelter in any corner of the Bergen County Sheriff's Office — now or in the future."

Said Grewal: "The fact that a top official could make racist comments about the African American community — and that no one in the room would challenge or correct him — raises serious concerns."

Grewal said that the new Office of Public Integrity and Accountability would examine the matter to see "whether there are deeper issues that warrant a wider investigation."

Executive Undersheriff George Buono and three undersheriffs also resigned. A statement released by the office did not give a reason for their decisions.

Murphy has the power to appoint an interim sheriff. Until he does, the sheriff's office chief will be in charge of the office.