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Mt. Pleasant K-9 unit aids in another arrest

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

The team of Mt. Pleasant Borough Police Officer George Grippo and Gerro, his K-9 partner, recently helped track down a borough man who police said fled the scene of an alleged incident of domestic violence.

Just after 10 p.m. Dec. 21, Grippo, Gerro and borough Officer Matt Johnson were dispatched to a Washington Street residence for a reported assault, according to a criminal complaint filed Dec. 22 by Johnson at the office of Norvelt District Judge Roger F. Eckels.

Upon arrival, the officers spoke with a woman who had apparent swelling and cuts on her right eye, according to court papers.

The woman told police that her boyfriend, Charles Springer, 18, had struck her once near her right eye while she was wearing eyeglasses, causing swelling, bleeding and multiple cuts to her face, court records indicated.

The reason Springer struck her, the woman told officers, was that she'd asked him numerous times to leave, according to court papers.

Upon the officers' arrival at the residence, Springer had already left on foot traveling along Flower Way in the borough, court records indicated.

“At that point in time, we gathered some more information and I got Gerro out of the vehicle,” Grippo said.

The officers, along with Gerro, tracked Springer to a garage located at 206 S. Diamond St., according to court papers.

“There was a little bit of snow on the ground, so that gave us a good starting point. Gerro picked up on the most recent human scent, and he basically led us to the location of the suspect,” Grippo said. “The trail was approximately 250 yards and it took about 3 minutes.”

Suspect tracking is a skill the Dutch shepherd learned during the second phase of patrol training he and Grippo completed in March at Garrow Canine Training in Charleroi, which is operated by Mike Garrow, a Uniontown Police Department K-9 handler.

“We're actually three for three in tracking suspects since completing the training,” Grippo said. “That's pretty good because not all tracks aren't going to go the way you want them to. The winds blowing and concrete is tougher to track on, any hard surface tracking is hardest part of tracking. It's just another way a K-9 can help a police department with the jobs they do.”

The officers and Gerro established a perimeter at the front and back entrances of the garage, according to court papers.

Springer eventually emerged from the building's front door and was taken into custody by the officers, court records indicated.

Springer allegedly admitted to the officers that he punched the woman in the face. He also allegedly admitted to consuming three shots of liquor at the residence before striking the woman, according to court papers.

Police said Excela Health Frick Hospital staff reported that the woman suffered a right eye orbital fracture, court records indicated.

Police charged Springer with aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment by physical contact and underage drinking in connection with the incident.

Springer faces a preliminary hearing before Eckels at 10:30 a.m. today.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or