CLIFTON, NJ –  Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik, a respected figure in North Jersey’s law enforcement, died tragically on Tuesday afternoon. The incident occurred at a popular Turkish restaurant, Toros, on Hazel Street in Clifton, where he reportedly shot himself.

The episode unfolded just after 3:30 p.m., with a distress call over the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office radio system promptly issued at 3:38 p.m., directing all units to Toros. The response was immediate and substantial, with more than a dozen police vehicles from various departments, including Paterson police, the Sheriff’s Office, and Clifton’s fire and police services, converging on the scene. The area was cordoned off as two helicopters hovered above, adding to the intense atmosphere.

Authorities on site remained tight-lipped, directing inquiries to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office. The restaurant’s owner declined to comment on the matter.

The news of Berdnik’s demise has sent ripples of shock and grief throughout the community. Former Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark expressed his disbelief and highlighted Berdnik’s kind and even-tempered nature. Clifton Councilman Bill Gibson, a retired police officer and Berdnik’s former partner, was visibly shaken upon hearing the news, underscoring their deep bond.

Statements of condolence and shock have poured in from various dignitaries, including Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., NJSPBA President Pat Colligan, and Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari, each reflecting on Berdnik’s dedicated service and the profound loss his passing represents.

Sheriff Richard Berdnik, who had retired from the Clifton Police Department, served as the county sheriff since 2011 and was reelected for a fifth term in November 2022. His untimely death at his mid-60s has left the community in a state of mourning, as they remember a man who dedicated his life to public service.