When Rob Wagner and Chris Longo had to make decisions about their career paths years ago, they both knew, in their hearts, that they wanted to help people. Now, Officer Wagner and Sergeant Longo have been rewarded for doing just that: helping the people in Lawrence Township to feel safe and protected.
Wagner and Longo are Lawrence Township’s recipients of the Officer of the Year and Supervisor of the Year awards, respectively, and they have proven that, day in and day out, they do their jobs with 100 percent commitment to the people of the community.
Wagner, who was born and raised in East Windsor, enjoyed taking criminal justice classes in high school. “My grandparents, Edmund and Lovey Meshofski, who were always the life of the party, taught me so much about life, and how important it is to take care of people, and help them,” said Wagner. “My parents, Robert and Bonnie, also taught me this, and I knew that because I was raised that way, and because I like to solve problems, I decided that my path in life would be to join the police force.”
Starting out as a dispatcher at the age of 20, the guys that Wagner worked with talked him into taking the police test. “Everyone was saying that I did a good job working the desk, and that I should go the next step,” Wagner said. “It felt good knowing that my coworkers had confidence in me.”
After hours of studying police vocabulary that he “never even heard of” and math in classes every night, Wagner, who “studied his butt off,” took the civil service test and had to wait three months to find out if he passed. He passed with flying colors—97.5 percent—but was ranked 16th overall.
“I thought to myself that it would be a long wait before they got to me,” he said. “I was happy that the wait ended up being much shorter than I thought, and after all of the background checks, interviews with the Police Chief Mark Ubry, Captains, and Lieutenants, and a physical and psychological evaluation, I received a conditional letter of employment.”
Wagner spent the next 18 weeks at the Trenton Police Academy. After this, Wagner was ready to start his job on the force, and in August of 2000, he went out with a field-training officer to learn the ins and outs of the job. Before getting to where he is now, dealing with aggravated assault and domestic violence, Wagner began four weeks of training at the Quaker Bridge Mall, where he dealt with shoplifters and credit card fraud. But he also got the chance to meet people in the community.
“I would give high fives to all of the kids I would see,” he said. “I want them to feel safe with me, not afraid of me. I want the kids to feel that I am approachable.”
Because of his outstanding service, Wagner was chosen as Lawrence’s Officer of the Year. “Officer Rob Wagner has performed beyond what is normally considered regular patrol duties without prompting or prodding,” Ubry said. “His genuine concern for the citizens of Lawrence Township is evident in the extraordinary effort he puts forth on a daily basis. Rob’s work ethic is unparalleled, and the citizens of Lawrence Township are fortunate to have him working in their community.”
Wagner, his wife, Kelly, and their 11-year-old twin sons Dylan and Tyler were thrilled when they found out about his award. “When the chief called me to tell me that the committee voted for me, I was choked up, and never thought I’d be that guy,” he said. “Any one of the people I work with could have gotten the award. I work with a group of people who all have hearts of gold. My two direct supervisors Lieutenant Joe Caloiaro and Sergeant Steve Simon gave me so much guidance and support, offering assistance whenever needed. ”
Longo was born and raised in Lawrence, and at the age of 16 became a volunteer fireman at the Lawrence Road Fire Company. After graduating from Lawrence High School in 1993, he became a dispatcher for Mercer County Central Communications, where he dealt with medical and fire-related issues.
“I come from a family dedicated to making Lawrence Township a better place for 50 years,” he said. “My mother, Laura, an elementary school teaching assistant in Lawrenceville, and my father Giuseppe (Joe) Longo, employed by the township’s Public Works for nearly 40 years, came here from Italy, and made this town their home.”
Having such strong ties to the area, Longo wanted to do even more to keep Lawrence safe. He decided to get more training, heading north for a short period. “I went up to Newark, and became an investigative specialist for the FBI, after studying at the FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia,” said Longo. “I wanted to take this knowledge with me, and become a police officer.”
Longo went through the same training as Wagner, and in October 2000, he began patrolling the area and answering emergency calls, including car accidents and theft. In February 2004, Longo combined his FBI training with his police officer skills and became a detective, after taking many classes all over the state.
“I started out with general assignments which included burglary, sexual assault and fatal motor vehicle crashes,” Longo said. “I put my whole heart into what I did, and was promoted to sergeant in 2008.”
Like Wagner, Longo—the father of 3 children, Cara, 17, Kylee, 16, and Chase, 7—was also very humbled when he received the call from Ubry, feeling like there is no greater honor than being recognized by your peers.
“There are some really good supervisors so to be singled out for the award, meant so much to me,” Longo said. “I really try, everyday, to do my part to build people up, help them to grow, and to see them flourish every day. I also try to stay very involved in the community. Chief Ubry has done a great job to close the gap between the force and the community.”
Longo is also involved in the Police Unity Tour. To raise awareness of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, Longo, along with over 2,000 other policemen and women, have raised over $25 million by cycling from Florham Park to Washingto, D.C. The project’s motto is “We ride for those who died.”
“The squads that Sergeant Longo supervises are proactive, highly productive, and have a positive attitude,” Ubry said. “Sergeant Longo takes pride in his community, and leads by example. He always supports his personnel by promoting teamwork, providing effective training and treating everyone fairly. He is committed to delivering quality service to the residents and visitors to Lawrence Township.”
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