NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nineteen dogs have joined the MTA Police Department’s Canine Unit.

“I look at them as 19 additional barriers between the terrorists and us to keeping us safe,” Lt. John Kerwick said.

A graduation ceremony was held Friday at Grand Central Terminal for the canine officers, which are named after fallen soldiers, police officers and firefighters.

Falco was named for Officer John Falcone, an 18-year veteran who was gunned down in February 2011 during a shootout at the Metro-North train station in Poughkeepsie.

“He [Falco] also has my son’s badge number, which was retired…I’m just overwhelmed with these guys doing what they do for my son,” Falcone’s father, who attended the ceremony, told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

Sentry was named in honor of the 24 crew members who died when their U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry crashed shortly after takeoff in Alaska on Sept. 22, 1995, said MTA Officer Alan Kersh, who trained 16 weeks with his partner.

Chief is named for Asst. Fire Chiefs Donald Burns and Larry Stack.

“It’s one heck of an honor,” Stack’s son, Michael, told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa.

The unit has 50 canine officers and is one of the largest in the country.

The canine officers are taught to sniff out explosives and patrol the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and Staten Island Railway.

The animals can serve in active duty for up to eight or nine years before retiring.

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