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Robert Melton

Not sure about here in Pittsburgh - but when I used to live in Michigan - they said dial 911 for everything there. Even the non-emergency calls got routed through 911 (they just went to the back of the line). Sorry to hear about the tires.

Jonathan Potts

That is totally insane. I don't mean you are insane for calling 911 once you were told. But why isn't that handled by the police precint? Am I totally ignorant of the ins and outs of local law enforcement? (Well, I'm ignorant of a lot of things. This would be the least of them.)

Ed Heath

I still remember the NPR story I heard years ago, about the 311 line in Baltimore. It is exactly the sort of line you wanted, a non-emergency crime-reporting line. There was a big debate, because their city council thought residents wouldn't understand, would still use 911 or use the 311 line to try to report emergencies (because the poor are so childlike). Of course it has worked out really well. And of course we are supposed to use our 311 line for reporting potholes. That's why it turns off at 5:00 or 4:30, or something.
I can't believe the Precinct wouldn't take your call.


ha. Wikipedia agrees with you and says you could go to jail for non-emergency calls to 911:


but seriously. It must be an efficiency thing to centralize the processing of all calls requiring any form of police response. As for 311, I am a little curious what is different between it and the mayor's response line which was shut down for budgetary reasons some years ago.

As far as I know 311 pretty much started with Bloomberg in NY where it has been hugely successful. But the city put a lot of effort into doing the thing right and IT is Bloomberg's thing.

It seems degrading to pittsburgh but I think they should look into seeing if they couldn't have NY or somebody with a good working system outsource some of this.

This does stand out as just the kind of project that would be better done on a county wide level. So happy CMU is here to not help.

Sorry -- wrong on that one. 311 was done by a bunch of people before Bloomberg in NY. He sort of gets credit because NY's system is very serious. I think if you ask people in NY about his biggest achievment as mayor, this is what a lot of people will name.

"When New York launched 311 in March 2003 it was not a new idea. In the late 1990s the Clinton administration conceived it as a way to lessen the burden on 911, and Baltimore and Chicago put the system in place years ago. But New York's system surpasses its predecessors in both scale and complexity.

It has arguably been the mayor's most sweeping change to city government. It has changed the way that the city takes complaints by:

Consolidating almost 40 call centers from 17 different city agencies into a streamlined, centralized operation
Giving callers tracking numbers for complaints
Allowing residents to call in non-emergency complaints 24 hours a day
Fielding calls in 171 languages, by employing English and Spanish speaking operators, and hiring a translation service for other languages"


Good luck with 911, man. We've called several times on groups of nuisance loiterers across the street, and they didn't even transmit the call to local police on several occasions. I should have known when they asked whether it was city or county. Since they merged, there's been nothing but non-reported calls in the city. I think the county operators have something against the city folk. I wish there was a number to bypass the county operators to get to the city police. Oh, yeah, that was the city's 911!

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