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Mt. Pleasant's K-9 Unit raises funds for new car

Marilyn Forbes | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Mt. Pleasant Borough Police Officer George Grippo and Gerro, the department's K-9 officer, before the Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser the K-9 Unit has utilized exclusively during its shifts in a photograph taken Thursday, January 10, 2013. Grippo is conducting a fundraising campaign to enable the purchase of a newer, SUV-style vehicle to better suit the unit.

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Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

For more than two years, the Mt. Pleasant Borough police cruiser detailed with red sticker that read “K-9” has been a familiar sight to borough residents.

The car — which is driven by borough Officer George Grippo — could soon be replaced with a newer SUV, as a result of an ongoing fundraising effort Grippo is conducting.

Since 2010, Grippo has been partnered with Gerro, the borough's police dog.

The converted 2007 Ford Crown Victoria police car that the crime-fighting team has used exclusively for its shifts is ready to be retired, Grippo said.

“It has 117,000 miles and its starting to nickel-and-dime us to death,” Grippo said. “It's time to replace it.”

Grippo said he did not want to approach the borough for tax dollars to purchase a new vehicle.

Instead, he said he is attempting to raise the $25,000 in necessary fund on his own.

“The community has been so generous in its support of us,” Grippo said. “I hope that I can raise what I need.”

Grippo recently received large donations from the Mt. Pleasant Slovak Club, the Bridgeport Sportsmen's Club and the Mt. Pleasant Drug Awareness Committee toward the purchase of the vehicle.

“We have always been very supportive of Officer Grippo and the program,” said John Hostoffer, president of the Mt. Pleasant Drug Awareness Committee. “We said from the start that a dog was needed in Mt. Pleasant, not only for drug detection but for tracking and searching and as a partner for Officer Grippo. They have been very active in the community, and they are doing a great job.”

Grippo said he hopes to secure a used SUV that he will then have converted to add comfort and safety features for Gerro.

“An SUV will be better because it will give us more room and it will give me more space for my equipment,” Grippo said. “It will also be better in the winter for us when we have to go on calls.”

Grippo said he and Gerro have been busy responding to a variety of emergency calls and requests so he hopes to have the new vehicle up and ready for spring.

“Once I get enough money, I'll start to see what I can find,” Grippo said.

Borough officials, including Mayor Jerry Lucia, have said they are pleased with the pair's on-the-job performance and that they support Grippo's efforts to secure his own funding.

“He has been doing a good job with Gerro, and I think that it's impressive that he is out trying to raise money to get his own vehicle,” Lucia said. “We are very lucky to have such an aggressive officer who is willing to do that.”

While Grippo said he hopes to raise the money soon, he is appreciative of the funds that he has already received and the continued support that the residents of the borough have shown over time.

Those interested in more information on how to donate toward the purchase of the vehicle are asked to call the borough police department at 724-547-7210.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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