WAYNE - Sheriff Richard Berdnik became Passaic County's 49th sheriff tonight.

Berdnik jumped into the sheriff's race last August after his predecessor Jerry Spezial abruptly pulled out and took a job with the Port Authority. Berdnik now assumes command of a department of 670 officers, at a very challenging time.

Last week 45 of the 670 officers received layoff notices. Berdnik says he will take 90 days to review the situation and to explore ways to balance public safety with fiscal realities.

Forty-five other sheriff's office workers also received layoff notices last week, for a total of 90 layoff notices. Last week, the Passaic County Sheriff's Office eliminated 24 positions.