CRANFORD, NJ — Two men who were born and raised in the township and have served on the front lines of public safety are being recognized for their contributions.
Police Lt. Christopher Polito and firefighter Mark Bagniewski both accepted 2018 Shield Awards from the Cranford Knights of Columbus Council 6226 on March 10 at the St. Michael’s School for their “faithful service, commitment and dedication to the Cranford community.”
“It’s an honor to receive an award, especially one from the Knights of Columbus,” Polito told LocalSource in a recent phone interview.
Now starting his 10th year on the job, Polito is commander of the department’s Patrol Division and also serves as vice president of the Cranford Police Athletic League.
Calling his work a “rewarding profession,” Polito also spends a large amount of his time volunteering at Cranford Community Connection, which organizes townwide events and programs, and coaching youth soccer and Little League.
It is really fulfilling to “have a positive impact on youth and community,” Polito told LocalSource.
Bagniewski, who has been with the fire department full time for four years, said he was humbled to receive the award.
“My favorite part of the job is assisting, but also living and being a part of the wonderful Cranford community,” Bagniewski told LocalSource.
As a third-generation firefighter, he said the profession has always been in his blood.
“My grandfather was a fireman in East Newark; my father was a fire captain in Harrison; and my uncle was a past chief of the department in Great Meadows,” Bagniewski noted.
“This job requires you to be on your game every day. Every emergency is important to us and our goal is to keep our community safe.”