911 Response Time

In a classic Pittsburgh moment, Steph's car was broken into overnight. This alone could happen in any city, but here we have a special kind of criminal. And by special, i mean really really stupid. This guy tried to pry her passenger side front window open with something in mind and managed to shatter it. He then proceeded to rummage through all the junk in Steph's car. There was a lot of junk.

The damage was mostly restricted to the window area and the dashboard. The genius attempted to pull the stereo right out with his bare hands, and of course failed, since giant screws secure it. He managed to get it halfway out and break just about every piece of plastic on the dashboard. He went through and pulled out everything in the car, maybe looking for a wrench or some other tool, but in his search passed right over a camera, minidisc player, radar detector and other objects of some value. He left all this sitting in the passenger seat, no doubt confused about what they were. See, they don't have such advanced devices in Pittsburgh yet. Come on, cut them some slack.

This was pretty much sucked for all involved obviously. I got the call from Steph at 10:30am, and hurried outside where I found the number for the police station. They refused my call, telling me to call 911. 911 was not exactly helpful, as they wanted the address of the car. The nearest building was a Marriot, so I gave her that, but she wanted a closer address. I described the location extensively, not trusting Pittsburgh to be able to route a police car to me. What was interesting was that she didn't even take the car make, model, and color.

We waited for one hour, while I wrapped the window hole in preparation of the coming rain. It was now a little after noon, and the rain started to begin. I called 911 again, where a guy told me that he had no record of my previous call. He did take the car's info, and also took the hotel as a landmark. Most of my waiting time had been spent waiting outside the Marriot, watching every car that passed. Not once in the previous hour or the following 40 minutes did I see a police car on the road.

Getting fed up, I found the front desk of the Marriot, where they agreed to call 911 for me from there. All of the 911 people were extremely rude, but this guy was just evil. He denied that any calls had come in and chastised me for not having an exact address for the car. In retrospect, I guess I should have moved the car on top of the hotel's mailbox to give it an address. He also told me he would dispatch someone.

After 2 hours of waiting in total, a police car arrived. He was nice, apologetic, and helpful. He told me that 3 cars had been dispatched, but he could not determine where they were. Obviously the police had no problems driving, they had a problem receiving correct information. He filled a report, and was on his way. Shortly after I received a call from Pittsburgh Dispatch, where the following conversation took place:

Me: Hello?

Dispatch: This is Pittsburgh Dispatch.

Me: Oh, don't worry about sending a car, one came a few minutes ago.

Dispatch: Oh great, a car is already there and you weren't going to tell me? --click--

Now I understand that they have some communication issues, but is it really necessary to make sarcastic comments to the guy you've had waiting for 2 hours?

So, if you are planning on getting stabbed in Pittsburgh, and you don't think the loss of blood will allow you to walk to the hospital, make sure you call 911 two hours in advance of the stabbing, and then again remind them 1 hour in advance. Finally, either right before or right after, call from a different phone just in case. And also, don't get stabbed unless you are at a defined address. A street and nearby address will only get your call lost.