BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The release of a disturbing recording has forced a New Jersey sheriff to issue a public apology.
In audio obtained by WNYC, a man criticizes Gov. Phil Murphy’s inauguration speech. The January recording allegedly included the voice of Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino speaking with colleagues.
The voice, believed to be Saudino, goes on to make racist remarks about black people, then a homophobic comment referring to New Jersey’s lieutenant governor, Sheila Oliver.
The voice asked if Oliver was gay because she’s never been married. The recording also criticized state attorney general Gurbir Grewal, a Sikh, saying Gov. Murphy only appointed him because of “the turban.”
“I would like to offer my sincere apology to the people of Bergen County for the insensitive recorded remarks that were made public,” Sheriff Saudino said in a statement Thursday.
“These remarks are not representative of the person that I am and they are in no way consistent with the manner in which I have conducted my life personally and as a law enforcement professional.”
Earlier Thursday, Gov. Murphy said he listened to the recording.
“If that is in fact his voice… Sheila and I, and our entire administration, find completely and utterly unacceptable, inconsistent with not just our values, but New Jersey values,” Murphy told reporters.
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said he was shocked by the comments and believed the sheriff needed to step down.
Saudino has been sheriff of New Jersey’s largest county for nearly a decade.