There was plenty of pomp and circumstance among the bustle of Grand Central Friday, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority graduated its latest class of 19 K-9 officers after months of training. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
They've got their shields and they're ready to serve.
Meet Chief, Vinny, Foxy, Tank and their 15 four-legged classmates, the newest Metropolitan Transportation Authority police graduates.
Trained to sniff out explosives, the dogs will be paired with human partners who patrol the agency's rail stations, tracks and terminals.
"I've got to tell you what a joy it is for me to go walking through the terminal and see that presence there and see the reaction with people who have a level of comfort and security knowing that we are being protected," said Joseph Giuletti, president of Metro-North Railroad.
The MTA Police Department keeps close to 50 dogs in service as part of its explosives detection forces, giving it one of the largest such units in the country.
Each of the newest grads is named in honor of a fallen member of the uniformed services - with many of their family members turning out for graduation day.
"It's something that I personally take very seriously," said Sergeant William Finucane, master K-9 trainer with the MTA Police. "I feel that it will prolong the memory of your loved ones."
Like James McNaughton, an NYPD transit police officer who died in 2005 while serving in Iraq as a member of the Army. New recruit Mac bears his name. He's paired with MTA Police Officer Anthony Ferrara, who patrols the city's two biggest rail terminals.
"People come up and ask to pet that dog, and the Officer Ferrara is going to explain the name Mac, what's his name, and he's going to tell them what that name is," said William McNaughton, James McNaughton's father. "To me, that's what it's all about. He keeps Jimmy going."
Joey, seen above, is named in memory of MTA Police Sgt. Joseph Callahan, who died last May. He's off to patrol Metro-North stations.
"It's all different down here," said Officer John Brazil of the MTA Police. "On the streets is one thing, but when come down here, the crowds and the vibrations and the noises and the crowds, it's a lot for a dog to take in."
Not all of the graduates are headed to the Staten Island Railway, Metro-North or the Long Island Rail Road. Seven of the pups will be working for the NYPD or police departments in the northern suburbs, where they'll help keep riders safe and sometimes accept a belly scratch in return.