MTA police have enlisted a new class of officers and their four-legged partners to fight terrorism and detect explosives.
A group of 10 officers — five human and five dogs — were honored Friday morning during a graduation ceremony at Grand Central Terminal after completing a 12-week explosive detection course at MTA police’s 72-acre training grounds in Dutchess County, officials said in a statement.
The five dogs join the MTA police ranks which includes about 50 service dogs. The rookie canine crimefighters will even be given small police shields for their collars, officials said.
“The MTA PD canine unit is crucial to our counterterrorism efforts and keeping the public safe,” said acting MTA Chief of Police Joseph McGrann.
The police have a tradition of honoring fallen police officers, firefighters and members of the U.S. armed services, by using their names for incoming canine cops. One of the graduated dogs was named after New York Fire Department Lt. Christopher Raguso. Also honored was Arthur Lopez, a Nassau County police officer who was slain on the job in 2012.
Raguso, 39, of Commack, was also a master sergeant in the New York Air National Guard. He died in March 2018 while serving in Iraq. He was one of the seven men killed when their helicopter crashed near the Syrian border.
Lopez, 29, was shot to death in Bellerose, Queens, on Oct. 23, 2012, while trying to arrest a hit-and-run driver from Nassau.
The canine dubbed “Goose” and named for Raguso will partner with Officer Salvatore Surletti, officials said. The remaining cops and their canine partners are: Officer Ashley Torres and dog “Artie” named after Arthur Lopez with the Nassau County police; Officer Tommy Long and dog “JD” named for NYPD Officer John D’Allara; Officer Richard Denicker and dog “Chris” named after NYPD Sgt. Christopher Christodoulou, and Daniel Bradbury and dog “Joey” named after Joseph Henry with the FDNY.
The department’s dogs are generally German shepherds or German shepherd and Belgian shepherd mixes that are 1½ years old and work for about nine years before hanging up their shields, authorities said.
The new officers are tasked with investigating suspicious packages at the train stations, tracks and facilities of New York City Transit Authority, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and Staten Island Railway, covering 5,000 square miles and 14 counties in New York State and Connecticut, officials said.