board member brings a gun to meetings (but he’s a cop), coworker leaves early every day, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Board member brings a gun to meetings (but he’s a cop)

One of the members of the board I report to is a police officer, and he comes to meetings in his full uniform, weapons included. He has also been called on to leave to perform police duties while in meetings, making us lose our quorum and putting a stop to the meetings. I have pointed out that it might be inappropriate for him to perform board duties while on call, but I’ve been brushed off. He even brought his gun when he was on a panel interviewing potential new employees! When I voiced an objection, the board laughed it off. Is there anything I can do about this?

(I’m a relatively new and young director of a small town library with only two employees. I’m an outsider to the community and haven’t been able to gain much respect.)

If the board is fine with it and he’s not violating any local laws, there’s probably nothing you can do here. I share your discomfort with having a gun at meetings and job interviews (!), but “police officer in uniform with service weapon” does read very differently than “Joe the accountant bringing a gun to board meetings.” It also sounds like he might be coming in his full uniform, including gun, because he’s sometimes called away to do police work. In a situation where the board has already heard your concerns and dismissed them and where you’re new and an outsider to the community, it’s probably not going to be a good use of capital to keep pushing it.

2. Coworker leaves early every day

Our coworker leaves 5-10 minutes early for lunch and then again leaves 5-10 minutes early at the end of the work day. Their job is customer service — answering phones in a small call center — so their presence is relevant to their job. Our supervisor has different work hours so he goes to lunch earlier and leaves earlier and doesn’t notice this behavior. When informed by other workers, he tries to make everyone happy by saying he doesn’t mind us leaving early once in a while as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. What isn’t addressed is that two employees consistently leave in this manner and if the other two did the same there wouldn’t be anyone working.

How do we get the supervisor to put their foot down and stop what is going on? We have tried going to the supervisor’s supervisor but that didn’t get anything corrected either. We think that they (the supervisors) are concerned that the employees who are leaving early will retaliate by filing a complaint against them, so they pretty much leave them alone. Our work environment has plummeted because of this issue.

One option is to take them at their word — if they don’t mind people leaving early once in a while, then leave early once in a while and see what happens. Time it so you’re ducking out before the habitual early-leaver, so you’re not the one leaving things unstaffed.

But if you’re too conscientious to want to do that (or if would feel unsatisfying as a solution), go back to your manager and explain (a) it’s not “every once in a while,” but actually most days (or whatever is accurate) and (b) it’s causing XYZ problems for your work. That last part is important — what is the specific impact it’s having on you? Is it leaving you with too many calls to handle on your own? Making you stay late in order to get through all the callers? Something else? Whatever the impact is, that’s the problem to put in your manager’s lap and ask them to help you solve. If there isn’t really an impact on your work and it’s just irritating … that’s something you’ll probably need to live with. If that’s the case and your manager has said they’re unconcerned, you don’t really have the standing to push it further.

3. Social media during job hunts

I am graduating from university in a few months, and have started to job hunt. My question is regarding social media — all of my accounts are private, but I believe there are ways prospective employers can get around these measures? Is this true?

Additionally, what is okay to post and what isn’t? I know generally to stay away from party photos and risqué photos — but if I have photos from a vacation, where I’m in a bathing suit, should I take it down? Or on Twitter, I tend to favourite political tweets (although I rarely retweet anything), is this going to be a problem? Am I worrying too much?

If your social media accounts are private, employers don’t have any special way of accessing them. They’d need to be connected to someone you’re connected to and you’d need to have your settings set to allow friends of friends to see your stuff. Employers aren’t generally looking that hard, but if you’re worried about it, you can lock that setting down.

Beyond that: Don’t post photos that seem to glorify drinking to excess. Holding a glass of wine is generally fine; holding a red Solo cup while looking drunk probably isn’t. Don’t post about being hungover or otherwise indicate you’re cavalier about heavy drinking.

Liking political tweets isn’t a big deal unless you’re applying to work on the opposite side of the political aisle, or unless you want to screen for employers who will hold your political views against you (but the mere act of liking a political tweet is not usually damning unless it’s hate speech or bigotry).

Some people will tell you that you should take down bathing suit photos, if just from an abundance of caution. But no one tells dudes to take down bathing suit photos of themselves, so I will tell you that you don’t want to work somewhere that would penalize you for having a (gasp) photo of yourself in swimming attire.

4. Leaving a degree off your resume

My husband recently applied for a job through a recruiter who contacted him (very common in his industry). The recruiter called him the next day concerned that on my husband’s LinkedIn profile he lists his degree while it’s not on his resume. This caused a bit of a hassle but not a big deal since he does have the degree exactly as stated.

But it did raise an interesting question. My husband’s profession requires extensive professional exams that lead to leveled credentials. That, combined with 15 years of experience, he feels is more important than the degree. Many intake systems only accept a one-page resume and putting the degree on there means one less line he can use to tailor his job experience to the position. I think this experience shows that his degree needs to be on there even if it pushes something else off. What do you think?

Yeah, he should have the degree on there. It’s so strongly convention to include it that it will look weird if he doesn’t (if they later realize he actually has it), and some employers will screen out candidates without it. I’d love to say he could leave it off without consequence given his decade and a half of relevant work experience, but he needs to keep it on there. It’s one line.

(To be clear, if he had graduate degrees that he wanted to leave off because they were in a different field, that’s fine. But with so many people feeling like a bachelor’s is a prerequisite or at least something they’re very interested in you having, it’s got to stay on.)

5. Is pushy networking the new norm for college students?

I’m genuinely curious about some interactions I’ve had with a student from my alma mater who has been contacting me for networking/“advice.” I’ve always been more than happy to pay it forward for students from my school and do networking coffees and have helped them with recommendations and getting internships before, as I work in a somewhat difficult to enter public policy field, but I’ve been thrown for a loop with this latest student.

We met up once before the pandemic where the student proceeded to use the whole time to talk about himself and all the people he knew in the city where he was interning (where I’m located) and didn’t ask me questions, but I still gave him the usual advice I give students. I was not impressed, but this student has sent me several emails over the past year to “update me” on his GPA, where he was moving, his extracurricular activities, etc. At one point I didn’t respond quickly enough and he messaged me on Linkedin saying he’d been trying to contact me and hadn’t heard back.

Is this the new norm for college students now? I understand the pandemic has made things very difficult for those graduating during these times. I’ve been polite in my responses, but don’t feel like I need to respond to every email, and I’m curious how you or others would handle?

Nah, this isn’t a new norm. This is just one obnoxious dude.

There is advice out there for people to stay in touch with those they’ve networked with, and for early-career networkers to let people who helped them know how things are going as time goes by. Maybe that’s what’s he’s doing. But the level of pushiness is all him.

His “I haven’t heard back from you” message actually gives you a good opening — you could respond to that and say, “Glad to hear you’re doing well. I’m swamped these days so behind on correspondence. Best of luck in whatever comes next for you!” And the give yourself permission to stop replying to future messages if it’s not a relationship you want to maintain.

Someone could argue it’s better to be straight with him (“you’re coming across as demanding more of my time when you didn’t make good use of our meeting last year”) but I don’t think that’s a burden you need to take on. It’s not on you to explain to him why his approach is wrong, although you certainly could if you wanted to.

{ 465 comments… read them below }

  1. Sami*

    OP 1: Police officers in uniform have to wear their weapons. And MANY off-duty officers wear their weapons as well. Many could be required to. I do agree that wearing the uniform for job interviews is off-putting.
    If one person leaving a meeting leaves you without a quorum, perhaps the board needs to be bigger.

    1. RadManCF*

      I work in corrections, and while I can’t speak for everyone in uniformed public safety jobs, it’s been my experience that almost nobody wears their uniform just for the hell of it. A lot of my coworkers don’t even wear their uniform while commuting. A uniform attracts all sorts of attention when seen in public, and a lot of it is undesirable when you’re off duty.

      1. JM60*

        It sounds like the cop in the letter is often on-call. I wonder if they work in a small town or in a special role where they often need to be available for some reason.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          The LW states this is a small town library. If the board member is on the local police force, it too likely is small, hence the on-call status.

          Alison is spot on about this being different from Joe the Accountant packing heat. Joe the Accountant is at least potentially dangerous as an armed nut job. A cop in uniform? Doing his job. He might be a nut job, too, but the gun is not the signifier it would be for the accountant.

          People on both sides of the aisle tend to fetishize guns. I am a leftie, but I grew up in a military environment. As a teenager, taking a couple of guns out into the desert and shooting at cans was considered a perfectly reasonable recreational activity, recreational options for teens being limited and this at least not likely to lead to pregnancy. I roll my eyes at people who treat guns as magic talismans, whether they are pro or con.

          1. TheMonkey*

            “People on both sides of the aisle tend to fetishize guns”

            Thank you for putting into words something I’ve been struggling to explain in another facet of my life. This quite succinctly gets at what I’ve been trying to formulate.

          2. Paris Geller*

            Yeah, if it’s a small town, the police officer is probably always “on call” unless he’s physically not there. It can be emotionally draining, but I grew up in a small town where my dad was the only investigator on our 12-13 person police force–he worked days and did not report in uniform on an average day, but he was literally always on call unless he was physically not in the state (even then he would be contacted. I remember once we were on vacation to California, and as soon as our plane touched down and we could turn our phones back on, my dad had a ton of calls about a new problem that had come up while we were in the air).

          3. SeanT*

            Often you have things like this where in small towns folks wear a lot of hats.
            The police officers are also on boards, some also are in the volunteer fire department, others EMTs, you get a lot of the same people popping up to do the things that the town needs to be done.

            1. RunShaker*

              OP#1 Exactly, I grew up in a small town, 1200 people in city limits & more surrounding area that police supported. You have to wear many hats. There are only limited number of police that a small town can afford to hire as well so many times even if police officer is off duty, he/she really isn’t & are always on call. I also understood when in uniform and/or on duty, the officer has to carry their gun. Many police officers also do “side jobs” by providing security to businesses & events which was allowed by union in my small town & now where I live in large city. Resources are scarce & budgets are limited in small towns. I’m guessing OP#1 moved from large city? Please know this is normal in many small towns.

          4. Hats Are Great*

            Also it’s pretty great that the small-town cops are liaising with the small-town library and there’s a cop on the board! I used to oversee police in a former job, and the ones who join library boards and park boards and school boards or take liaison positions with those, etc., are the ones who are generally committed to community policing-type reforms. They’re actively trying to build community capacity and support, and to be active in the community as people and citizens, not just cops.

          5. Not A Girl Boss*

            Yes, all of this. LW, I kind of wonder if you’re new to ‘small town’ life in general? Because all this stuff is very normal in my experience, if a little annoying.

            My brother is a cop in our tiny hometown. He is virtually always on call, because there’s only 1-2 cops actually working at any time, and if there’s an emergency that requires backup, the next nearest department is 15 minutes away. He keeps his uniform on most of the time, because again, if there’s an emergency, it sucks to take 5 minutes to change.
            He’s also a volunteer firefighter and EMT, as was my father before him. We have had annual town meetings, selectmen meetings, etc, postponed when a call came in and the quorum left to respond. Even polling has to be carefully negotiated to make sure we don’t lose poll workers to emergencies. Its just a quirky small-town problem.

            Growing up in a small town in the woods surrounded by wildlife, guns were such a normal part of my life that I never thought of them as noteworthy. Guys just got up in the morning and put on their gun, their pocket knife, their wallet, and their watch. This was especially true during hunting season, when everyone carried rifles in their trucks for a quick before-work session. A casual Tuesday activity was shooting in a friend’s backyard. This was true even of left-leaning conservationist neighbors: guns weren’t political, they were just a tool. As the town grew and out-of-towners started to move in, I’d notice their eyeballs kind of lock on to a gun if they spotted one under someone’s jacket and its only then that I realized ‘normal people’ think of them as something scary.
            I’m not passing judgement on whether or not guns SHOULD be abnormal/scary, but if someone complained about a cop wearing a gun whilst going about their non-work day in my hometown… they’d come across as extremely out of touch.

        2. Veryanon*

          Yes, this. My dad (now retired) was a police officer in a smaller community, and was often on call even during his off hours. He would often wear his uniform (complete with weapon) to things like my brother’s Little League baseball games, which he helped to coach. No one ever thought anything of it, it was just him doing his job.

          1. Ana Gram*

            I just say I’m in HR. Which is accurate since I work in hiring and recruiting. Before that, I said I was an EMT. Also accurate since I’m a volunteer EMT. People have strong opinions about the police (obviously) and I don’t necessarily want to get into it during some random interaction that’s just polite conversation, ya know?

            1. TootsNYC*

              this reminds me of when I worked for a company that had its famous founder’s name. She was a particular target of public opinion, both fan-ish and denigrating. I quickly learned to just leave out the actual name of the company and describe the category (women’s clothing, or housewares, or similar).

              I found that mentioning her name just derailed the entire conversation. Either I’d be asked to justify her very existence, or I’d be subjected to a fan’s questions.

            2. Chinook*

              Your not alone. DH will tell people he is an accountant because nobody asks accountants about their day job.

              As for a weapon, he refuses to wear one off duty but does at all times when he is in uniform, including when he is in red serge on ceremonial duty at Remembrance Day. As he pints out, good citizens may be surprised but the bad guys could take the sign of a weaponless cop as an opportunity. True, the bad guy would be caught, but the cop and any inoccent bystander would already be hurt or injured.

              This is part of their use of force training – the mere presence of an officer is the first step in escalation. Proof of this concept is the on-duty death of one cop and injury of his partner while they were inspecting what had been reported as an abandoned vehicle in a casino parking lot. They didn’t even know there was a suspect to look for until after shots were fired. Their presence was enough for the shooter to open fire.

              So, yeah, a uniformed cop is going to be armed but. If you want them actively inolved in the community jn a positive way, then you have to accept that this is going to happen. The alternative is that they are treated as dirty secrets to only be seen after something horrible has happened.

      2. Watry*

        I’m not allowed to wear my uniform while off-duty (commute aside) and I’m not even an officer. I wear a polo with our department logo on it. Not that, as you say, anyone wants to.

    2. MK*

      Also, if the cop is not allowed to participate in meetings while on call, most likely they wouldn’t have a quorum to begin with.

    3. Joie de Vivre*

      I live in a suburb of a major US metro area. Police officers in this area are required to keep their service weapon with them even while off duty. For example while attending the symphony.

      It would be a good idea to find out if officers in your town have the same rule. The officer may not have a choice.

          1. JSPA*

            Reason tends to be, it provides a false sense of security to people who have a misplaced totemification and/or fetishization of guns (as Richard Hershberger nicely described).

            Cops are the personification of “good guys with a gun,” for people who believe that every situation is rendered a bit safer by the proliferation of “good guys with guns.”

            It’s like people trying to pass laws requiring teachers to be armed. Except that teachers can more effectively point out that they’re not even potentially qualified to carry (or religiously/philosophically opposed).

            1. abcd*

              A better reason, at least from police officers I know personally, is being a cop isn’t just a shift job, its their life. If they come across an incident, they’re going to call it in and get to work. They aren’t carrying a gun to provide a sense of security, they’re carrying a gun (and often have other supply items) so they can start working anytime.

              Also, there are times police officers are called in from days off, vacation, lunch, etc. for serious events (hostage situations, kidnappings, murder, etc) and they need to be prepared. While a squad care can probably provide an extra pair of cuffs or other miscellaneous items, guns aren’t just lying around readily available if someone rolls up to a call to assist.

              1. Not A Girl Boss*

                Yes. As someone with a lot of firefighters/EMTs/police in my family, I can’t imagine the guilt they would feel if they came across an incident they *could* have helped with, but weren’t prepared for because they’d left their gear at home. And because they come from such a small town, unexpected call-ins for backup happen several times a month.

                I actually remember a fight between my mom and dad from when I was a kid, because he wanted to pay the extra baggage fee to bring his EMS kit on vacation ‘just in case’. She eventually haggled him down to gloves and a non-rebreather.
                To my family members who are cops, their gun is just as essential a part of their gear as my dad’s gloves are. They don’t wear them to look tough(?) or whatever, they wear them because its a tool they need to do their job safely.

        1. JM60*

          It may be required so that cops can respond to emergencies they randomly witness off-duty. After all, there are always more off-duty than on-duty cops at any given time.

          Cops often carry guns off-duty anyways because they sometimes randomly run into people who they’ve arrested before, some of whom might be angry at the cop for the years they’ve spent in jail. In a country full of people carrying guns, it makes sense for cops to carry guns with them.

          1. MK*

            This might depend on culture, but, despite what you see in movies, people don’t often develop personal vendetta against authority figures that impose penalties. I worked for years in the office of a judiciary member who actually sent people to jail; the most common reaction was “resigned”, with “desperate” as a distant second. The very few people who exhibited anger, it was usually against their accomplishes, not the police. And the career criminals, who were the most dangerous, had an even more calm attitude, they considered jail time part of the deal, one actually said “I understand you have to do your job” to the prosecutor!

            1. Clisby*

              From The Wire:

              Defense Attorney: How many times have you been arrested as an adult, Mr. Little?
              Omar Little: Shoot, I done lost count. Enough to know not to take it personal.

            2. Properlike*

              Depends also on your jurisdiction. Our police officers in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area live in the same areas they patrol. In the neighboring Big City, it’s mandatory for your job. (Community policing and all.) Cop friends have lots and lots of stories of running into this situation of running into people they’ve arrested. Often, you pretend not to notice each other. Occasionally, the dude walks up into your yard while your kids are outside. It’s like being the bad version of a celebrity.

            3. RadManCF*

              In my experience in corrections, it absolutely does happen. Officers and other staff who are stricter than average, or who happen to tell a hot-headed offender something they don’t want to hear, or who make mistakes that negatively affect offenders, do in fact inspire vendettas. However, the vendettas are not always directed at the staff that inspired them; often a more accessible or vulnerable staff member bears the brunt of it. To the extent that the offenders have vendettas against police, we wind up as a substitute target, because we’re accessible. There have been staff assaults where the offenders involved say afterward that they had nothing personal against the assaulted staff; the just wanted to assault someone in a uniform.

          2. Emma*

            I can understand why a US cop might choose to carry a gun, yeah. But it seems like a very strange thing to require.

            Maybe it’s different in the US, but in my experience most legal systems only give cops extra powers – like the power to search someone, to arrest them, to enter property etc – when they are on duty. I can only assume the same applies to the power to (legally) shoot at someone. Plus, if you’re off duty you presumably don’t have access to the other resources you need to do your job safely – like a radio to call for (urgent) help, whatever computer system you use to check plates and warrants etc.

            Idk, this just seems like a really good way to put officers in potentially dangerous situations without the resources and backup that is designed to keep them safe.

            1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

              Highly dependent on municipality and locality in the US. Some police forces have policies that require an officer to respond to any significant crimes they see occurring, even if they’re off duty. While there may not be a legal obligation in these cases, there can still be professional ones.

              And while the popular opinion/depiction of police is that they’re authoritarian thugs and stormtroopers, the majority of people get involved in the field because they want to help and protect their fellow citizens, so the idea of just ignoring a major incident because they’re off shift would not sit well with them.

              1. Emma*

                Sure, I’m not suggesting that anyone should ignore an emergency that’s happening. But if you take the example of a firefighter: they would call it in, they would assist in whatever way is safe for them to do so, and they would help organise and advise members of the public to fight the fire safely and effectively. But they wouldn’t enter a burning building without breathing equipment, they wouldn’t risk their life, and they wouldn’t be expected to handle the situation themselves.

                The first rule of emergency response is always to not make another casualty of yourself; if you do then that means less time and resources to look after the people originally involved.

                1. Sunflower*

                  There is simply a different culture in the US around guns. Many more civilians carry guns. Most people(just everyday people with everyday jobs!) carry for their own protection. People who carry are extremely comfortable with it. Many many people who don’t carry guns (or would never) still believe it’s your right to carry one.

                  The issue you’re speaking of kind of relates to the issue going on in the states. We only have police to deal with emergencies- many are advocating that we need to create depts to deal with other types of emergencies that police don’t need to handle. But we still need police to respond to serious incidents where using their weapon may be necessary.

                2. New Englander*

                  Correct, but all of the firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs I know keep some or all their gear in their car.

                3. Wintermute*

                  @New Englander, exactly, you can safely keep a medical bag in the car, it’s not considered secure storage for a duty weapon which should be on your person or in a locked location at all times.

              2. Lucy P*

                In my area cops are never truly off duty because they do have the duty to respond even when they are not working.

              3. JSPA*

                Couple of points.

                1. Cops are supposed to protect everyone; not only citizens. (My non-citizen partner, despite permanent residency and a professorship, was once threatened by a rogue cop with “deportation” and told, “the laws don’t even apply to you.” So this isn’t nitpicking.)

                2. A huge percentage of cops want to protect some larger or smaller subset of citizens–the ones they think of as “fellow citizens”–from harm. But the mileage really varies, as far as which citizens get shoved outside of that definition, and treated as probable criminals, first; citizens, secondarily. The problem broadly does not, therefore, lie in the good will of individual cops, which is often as outsized and impressive as their bravery and doggedness.

                It lies, institutionally, in training and regulations that not only allow but normalize and encourage

                a. “us vs them” thinking
                b. a stunning lack of insight into the mind of someone unprepared to deal with cop terminology and procedure
                c. escalation over de-escalation
                d. instilling confusion and fear as a control tactic
                e. disproportionate prioritization in protecting fellow officers over protecting “the public” (including suspects)

                As a result, I fear think that having a uniformed officer doing interviews is a problem. It certainly could make any number of desirable candidates have a much tenser interview than they would otherwise have. That reaction presumably hurts their chances of being hired. And it’s potentially quite correlated with race and with socioeconomic background. That’s not to say a cop is unwelcome! The fully uniformed presence is, to me, more problematic than the gun. And more problematic than being on call, which can equally be a thing for doctors, sysops, and other job descriptions. (Life doesn’t stop just because you have “on call” hours.) Put on a windbreaker or suit jacket, doff the cap, don’t sweat the gun.

                1. Famous in a small town*

                  The LW states it’s a small town library. As someone who lives in a small town I can tell you the odds are pretty good that many people know who the cops are so seeing him in uniform wouldn’t be that big of a deal. My husband is in law enforcement and has shown up to our kid’s school events in full uniform including gun, taser, and baton and nobody blinked. I’ve seen other LEOs in our town “patrol” the local community center and athletic fields because their kid had a game while they were on duty. Seeing them around the community like this makes the uniform much less intimidating (unless you have warrants) so it may not have a detrimental affect on the candidates interview performance. The other aspect of a small town is that in addition to knowing who the cops are you actually know them. They are the parents of your kids’ classmates, maybe they were your classmate, they are your neighbor, their spouse is your coworker, they attend your place of worship, they shop in the same stores as you, you have the same doctor, etc. It’s basically impossible to be intimidated by someone who you still think of by their childhood nickname.

                2. RadManCF*

                  You should keep in mind that in the US, the Supreme Court has held that police do not have a duty to protect individuals. Not so much as a directive not to protect people, but as a liability shield since it is inevitable that they won’t be 100% successful. With regards to their prioritization of self-preservation, it’s not just police; there’s limits to the risks firefighters are willing to take as well.

              4. abcd*

                This. Police officers often view their job as a calling. Its rare for an officer to “turn it off” if you will when their shift ends. Coming a law enforcement family, I can’t tell you the number of times meals, outings, etc. have been cut short due to a police call. I can tell you it would incredibly inefficient and such a time waste to have to drive home to get gear than to have it in the car or on your person ready to go.

            2. Brett*

              More than a few departments have an “always on duty” policy. Even off the clock, you must respond to an emergency that you are on hand for. As a non-commissioned employee of a department, I would end up responding to an accident on my commute roughly once every two months. I carried a high visibility jacket in my car just so I could stop and direct traffic, which was my usual role. The captain in charge of my unit lost his personal truck and nearly was killed himself when he responded to a spun out car in the fast lane on an icy interstate. After he stopped to help, a large truck going far too fast for the conditions came skidding sideways down the median at them. He grabbed the driver of the other vehicle and threw both of them over to the median into incoming traffic as the skidding truck crunched through both of their vehicles.
              Obviously this did not require a firearm for any of these (and as a non-com, I didn’t carry a firearm), but it gives an idea of how the always on-duty requirements work and why they exist.

            3. Ace in the Hole*

              It’s quite different in the US. Although the exact rules vary from state to state and sometimes even from city to city.

              For example, I’m in California. Anyone trained/qualified to work in a enforcement role is considered an “officer of the peace,” a category that includes more than just police. A peace officer has the authority to act anywhere in the state, whether they’re on duty or off duty, when they see someone breaking the law. If I understand right they’re not *obligated* to act when they’re off duty – at least not legally obligated. But they may feel it’s their responsibility to do so if no one on-duty is available.

          3. Anon Today*

            Is your second paragraph speculation or based on experience? I really want to push back on your use of “often” for cops carrying guns around at all time out of fear. That is either something very region specific or straight out of the movies/TV.

            I’ve known a bunch of cops throughout my life and all of them would laugh at that statement, followed by a lecture about the difference between TV and the real world. To them, the gun is just a tool on their belt which most of them have never fired outside of the range.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              To them, the gun is just a tool on their belt which most of them have never fired outside of the range.

              And 99+% hope to never use it beyond the range. (Eldest grandchild of a retired Police Chief)

            2. JM60*

              The second paragraph is from one I’ve heard from a former cop on Youtube. He was explaining why he’s pro-gun carrying, and recounted an incident of running into someone he arrested before who likely would’ve been willing to do him harm.

          4. Here we go again*

            My great uncle was a homicide detective. One day when he was off duty he was at the bank cashing his paper check while it was being robbed and was able to apprehend the suspect without anyone else getting hurt. This was a long time ago but the reasoning hasn’t changed.

        2. kittymommy*

          At least where I’m from it’s because they have a duty to respond if they are in the same location of an incident. Say they are in a gas station off-shift and someone attempts to rob it, they have responsibility to respond to it.

        3. MassMatt*

          I find it odd that you find it odd. This is a requirement of many police departments, so that off-duty officers can respond to emergencies and threats. If you are in the US, you have no doubt been around plenty of armed people, police and otherwise, whether you knew it or not. The US has more guns than it does people.

          I think the letter writer needs to pay more attention to the local culture. That they are new and repeatedly raising this issue, being laughed at, and having trouble being taken seriously, are all probably linked.

          I do agree that if one person leaving a board meeting (for police emergencies!) leaves the board without a quorum it is a sign that the board is too small or attendance is too low.

        4. Katrinka*

          My ExH was a city cop. He was required to wear his weapon whenever he was in the city limits because he was required to respond to any crimes/need for assistance that he saw, whether or not he was actually on duty. Almost all of our first dates were to restaurants in the city, and there were actually two incidents that he stopped to help (both car crashes that happened in front of us) while we were on a date.

          The only exception is if they’re going to be drinking – they are absolutely not allowed to carry then.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        I am a physician and had an off-duty cop wear his weapon into the exam room. It made me extremely uncomfortable. I am a person of color (the only non-white physician in my division, as it happens) and live in a region where cops kill civilians on a daily basis, have been personally harassed by police, and know people who have been harmed by both on- and off-duty police. So it was definitely a shock to me and a bit of a distraction for his clinical care. The OP may be feeling the same distraction, but I agree that if you don’t have political capital in this board, you have to let it go.

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          It would be totally reasonable if you have your own practice location to have a “no guns” policy! You should advocate for that. The cop had secure his weapon in his trunk for his appointment or find another practitioner (with notice on your end to avoid patient abandonment). HCW have been targets of violence from unhappy patients and families and you shouldn’t have to deal with that at your workplace.

          1. Lady Meyneth*

            This is a good idea, but before doing that please check with an attorney. There are places where police officers must carry their service weapons at all times, and banning them from taking it into your office might raise discrimination issues. It sucks, but it’s how it is in some places. Also, in that case, an attorney might be able to suggest other solutions within the law.

            1. Team Tom*

              Police officers aren’t a protected class. There is no legal discrimination issue. (Public perception is another matter altogether, but an attorney isn’t going to be able to help with that)

                1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*


                  This will likely get lost in all the police comments but…

                  There was an excellent NPR segment on monkeys. Monkeys were being rewarded for doing a task (handing back an object) with cucumber slices. Monkeys were participating and fine with this system.

                  Then one monkey (in view of the other) started to get grapes for the same task. Monkeys love grapes! Much more than cucumbers.

                  Cucumber monkey saw this and got very angry. Threw the items. Wouldn’t do the task anymore.

                  But what had really changed for him? Nothing. He has happy to do it for cucumbers before. But not if someone else was getting grapes…

                  The point? Do you have a legit complaint (you have to stay late to take leftover calls) or are you cucumber monkey?

                2. Not Me*

                  Refusing to allow them into your business would be ok though. Just because you’re a police officer doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want on someone else’s property, a reminder lots of commenters on this board seem to need.

          2. Wintermute*

            Every “no gun” policy I have ever seen excepts law enforcement and military, often they are legally required to, because otherwise the prospective patient is stuck between a rock and a hard place between departmental policy and the no guns policy.

          1. comityoferrors*

            Through some quick googling, I found that the state of Florida had ~375 cop killings in 2017, which obviously is spread across the state but that accounts for more than one death per day. In 2018, there were 25 cop killings in Phoenix, AZ, which isn’t one per day but is roughly one every two weeks. That same year, there were 6 other cities that had a rate of one death every three to four weeks. Considering that information is 3-4 years old now and police killings have risen sharply in some cities, I think it’s fair to be pretty concerned about that in some parts of the US even if it’s not literally ‘daily.’

            1. sunny-dee*

              That Florida number SERIOUSLY needs a citation. There are only about 1100 officer involved shootings in the entire US every year.

            2. Heather*

              Risen sharply? Where’s the citation for that? There’s a big difference between actually risen and media coverage has risen.

          2. JSPA*

            Parts of Rio and parts of the Philippines come to mind. Actually, in 2019, Rio saw 1,810 police killings, so that’s five times as high.
            Los Angeles (LAPD) 133 police killings per year.
            Oklahoma city: 53 police killings per year.

            If “region” means “half a state” or “two or three states,” 365 killings in a year is completely possible. (Yes, that’s going to be shocking to people in policing who are not in or near a big city.)

            I’ll include the link I took these from, in a separate reply. Or search on, Mapping Police Violence.

            *26% of U.S. police killings between January 2013 – December 2019 were committed by police departments of the 100 largest U.S. cities.

            *47% of unarmed people killed by the 100 largest city police departments were black. These police departments killed unarmed black people at a rate 4 times higher than unarmed white people.

            *Rates of violent crime in cities did not make it any more or less likely for police departments to kill people.

      2. Emi*

        What if they’re going somewhere you’re not allowed to bring a gun? Where I live you can’t bring a gun onto school property, for instance.

          1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

            Absolutely. I know of a very large “entertainment complex” in my metro area that is a “Gun Free Zone”, posted on every single entrance…and LEO required to carry have a particular entrance that they are to go through and a very exacting protocol to follow. I don’t know those ins and outs, but do know that its there (I inquired about a wristband a friend was wearing at an event. It had to do with the entrance and protocols. And I do know that the friend is in one of those departments where its a requirement, even off duty.)

          2. PT*

            Those “Gun Free Zones” for the most part are a rule of private property, not a law (minus the gun-free school zones act, that’s federal law.) So Starbucks No Guns rule is as legally binding as its No Shirt No Shoes No Service rule. They can ask you to leave, and trespass you if you don’t, but that’s it.

          3. Not Me*

            For public property, yes. But not for private property unless they are performing their job duties. Being a police officer doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, whereever you want.

        1. Social Commentator*

          Where I live, uniformed police officers have guns at schools. I don’t know what the law would dictate if they were off-duty and out of uniform.

        2. Ann O'Nemity*

          In my experience in universities, civic buildings, and private property that have obvious “NO WEAPONS” policies, cops always get a pass.

        3. Kali*

          Cops can have firearms where the general public cannot, and that’s codified into law. There are exceptions – cops in general cannot have firearms past the security checkpoint in airports, for instance – but there are ways to get permission. For large events like political conventions, lots of off-duty cops are hired for security and have to fly in, so they get special permission letters to fly with their firearms.

        4. Hats Are Great*

          Uniformed officers are exempt, even in states with strong gun laws.

          If they’re off-duty but required to carry (city where I used to live had that rule), you can require them to show a badge, but most of them come into the front office of the school and say, “Hey, I’m Joe Smith, here to pick up Ben Smith for a doctor’s appointment? I need to inform you that I’m an off-duty police officer and I’m carrying my service weapon.” and volunteer their badge. In my experience officer-parents were mostly extremely respectful of school rules around guns and very proactive about ensuring they clearly followed the rules and clearly communicated with staff (even if they were not awesome elsewhere on the job).

          State and local cops CAN typically be forbidden from carrying guns on to federal property, particularly federal courthouses. (Also, in my experience, federal courthouse security is a lot jumpier than state courthouse security.)

        5. Katrinka*

          Yep, exceptions for LEO that are required to carry in those jurisdictions. the requirement to carry overrides everything, including federal buildings. In those cases, they are required to notify the guards, show their IDs, and they do not go through the metal detectors (but any briefcases, bags, etc. do go on the conveyor belt). This is also true for flying – they are not allowed to put their weapons in checked baggage, they must carry them with them. When going through security, they go to the side and inform them who they are, show their ID and ticket, and their carry on is put on the belt.

          If they travel to any other jurisdiction and have their weapon with them, they are to notify the police department of that jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions give them police powers while they are there, some don’t. if they are given powers, they are required to respond to any emergency situation/crime that they see, just as if they were in their home jurisdiction.

    4. Jen*

      I worked at a courthouse and government building where we have armed guards and I think LW needs to understand this is very standard for LEOs and eventually you stop even noticing. I understand it’s an adjustment but I don’t see LW having the clout to ask this of a board member. Small town, new job and no respect built up? Not a good idea.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This sounds very much like rural America.
      Being an officer is a 24/7 job from what I see. A local chief never was off the clock, he had 24/7 availability for whatever came up. And yes, he carried his weapon with him.

      I do admit that it appeared odd to me to see him in a meeting with his firearm. But constant preparedness is part of the job. And as you show here, the chief in my story always had to leave the meeting, too. It’s the nature of the work.

      It does sound like the board should increase its members. However, I am actually surprised that a police chief is considered part of the board. How does that work, does he vote on his own pay increases? And the pay increases of his people? That sounds like conflict of interest stuff. Typically, what I see here is that each department head appears at a meeting and gives a report answers questions and after that they are free to leave.

      Are you paid for these meetings or do you count them as part of your working hours? I do have a suggestion, ask if you can make your report then leave once you have done so. Unfortunately, to gain a sense of fitting in and belonging that would mean staying and learning about them.

      Another thing I suggest looking at to gain insight as to what is happening and why, is to look at the budget for the police department. This can be eye opening. In the department I am thinking of there are all part-time people. Pay rates hover around $12-13 per hour. Yeah, the chief absorbs the brunt of the work.

      It’s pretty normal to feel like an outsider. Notice I did not say it was acceptable, but this is how it goes sometimes. A good number of people have had the experience you are having. Again, that does not make it right, it just IS that’s all. My best advice is to just ignore those feelings and observations and just think about the library itself. They do want their library, keep that in mind. So focusing on what is best for their library can be a good inroad for you.

      People get entrenched on their boards- they stay with the board so long they become part of the furniture. So another suggestion I have is instead of telling them they should change something, just ask why something is done a particular way instead. With the Chief it could be that he is always on call. (I suspect this is the case.)
      And they probably have a way of handling things once they lose their quorum. Perhaps they get all the voting done early in the meeting for example. Yeah, not the best way to do things but they are working within the structure they have.

      Typically in smaller municipalities what I see is that one board member does all the work and the others sit there. You might gain some ground by finding out who works, who actually does things. OTOH, when a new board member comes on, that might be an opportunity for you because the new person might take an interest in what you are concerned about.
      But again, if you want them to really listen to you, then the focus has to be all about their library and what is good for their library.

      1. doreen*

        “However, I am actually surprised that a police chief is considered part of the board. How does that work, does he vote on his own pay increases? And the pay increases of his people? ” It sounds to me like he is on the board of the library, not a town board. It’s not uncommon for certain “government” services in the US to be run independently of the town/city/village/county government (sometimes while receiving funding from that government)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, this is what I couldn’t get out of the letter. I can’t tell if she is talking about library or town meetings. I would assume that if the town is providing funding for the library then monthly reports would be due to the town also- but maybe not. I am picturing a setting where there are library board meetings and then there are additional town board meetings.

          If the police chief is on the library board perhaps his second in command could attend board meetings and not be on call.

          1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            It doesn’t really work that way. A board member may sometimes delegate their vote to another board member, but they can’t usually delegate it to a complete non-member of the board.

            In most of the states where municipal libraries are common, the library will be legally required to maintain a board of trustees or board of directors. Depending on the library’s charter/bylaws, this board may consist of volunteers chosen from a specific pool of people (typically incorporators/donors), or be generally elected members of the town itself. In really small towns, its often the second situation, because there’s not a large enough population to have a group of the first.

          2. asterisk*

            Agreed with this. The library director needs to be there for the whole meeting; they can’t just make their report and leave–their job is integral to the meeting itself. The board doesn’t run the day-to-day operations of the library, so there’s no way for them to know everything that’s going on and they need the director’s input and insight. Also, while the board is the one making the decisions, it’s the director’s job to carry them out, so they have to be there to know what’s going on.

            I’m only familiar with how it works in my own state, but here, the number of board members on a board is set by state law, so a library can’t just decide to increase or decrease the number of board members to make getting a quorum more convenient.

          3. Elvises Mom*

            Many times in very small towns, there is only a small group of civic minded people that have to do everything because so many people don’t get involved. My town has only about ten people that run for town council or mayor, serve on the library board, belong to the civic association, serve as officers in the Lion’s Club, or serve on the historical society board.

            The OP says that the board member is an officer, not the Chief of Police. The town is lucky that he can squeeze time into his probably very busy day to attend library board meetings.

          4. Katrinka*

            It may also be that sitting on this board is part of this officer’s job. If that’s the case, then he should be getting paid for his time there and would be considered on duty while doing it.

        2. Snow Globe*

          There can be different jurisdictions – he could be an employee of the city, while the library is run by the county, for example. Also, per the original letter, he is a police officer not a police chief. He’s likely not on the board in any official capacity, but as an individual volunteer.

          1. susieQ*

            Yes, if it’s a non-profit organization (and I’ve never heard of a for profit library) the board is made up of volunteers.

        1. Hats Are Great*

          Where I live the library board is a separate taxing entity with a separate elected board. It’s common in my part of the state, but in other parts of the state, libraries are frequently part of the city or county government and have a volunteer or appointed board.

      2. Observer*

        I do have a suggestion, ask if you can make your report then leave once you have done so

        Seriously? If the OP is high enough that they report to the Board (as opposed to just delivering the occasional report), then doing that is just about the best way to insure that they get replace ASAP.

        However, I am actually surprised that a police chief is considered part of the board. How does that work, does he vote on his own pay increases?

        What are you talking about? This is the board of a library – how is that a conflict of interest? How does the library affect his pay, or that of any other police officer?

      3. Dara*

        In addition to those pointing out that this sounds like it’s simply the library board, the letter also only states that he is a police officer. It doesn’t say that he’s the chief of police.

      4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        It’s. It just rural America. It’s true with all the police departments I have ever worked with in my state (I’m not law enforcement, but my job requires me to work with law enforcement throughout my state. Big cities or smaller localities, they still are required to wear their weapons whenever in uniform or on duty (in some cases when off duty). And if he’s serving on a board, they likely let that work take place when he’s technically on duty

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Autocorrect messed that up. I meant that “it’s not just rural America.”

        2. Katrinka*

          And even if he were sitting on a board that might vote on his pay, he would simply be required to recuse himself from that vote. Being a board member is not a full-time job and is often unpaid. Board members will have outside jobs and may need to recuse themselves over certain things, it’s not at all uncommon.

    6. Smitten By Juneau*

      I “second” the comment about the board being too small, or possibly having attendance issues from other members, if one member being called away leaves you without a quorum. If you have a habitually absent member, perhaps they can be convinced to step down to allow the appointment of someone that can more readily participate. If they’re a founding member, or significant in the community, the board might consider granting them ex officio status, in which they still get to be part of the board, but don’t vote (and therefore don’t count against quorum.)

    7. Drago Cucina*

      That’s not always possible. The size of some boards are limited by state statute. I would encounter this in one job. Every few years someone wanted to expand the board. I would have to bring out the state code and explain that we had gotten in trouble about 20 years ago because they violated the statutes by adding board members

      1. Katrinka*

        IT would be perfectly reasonable for a board to petition to add members if even one member being absent means they can’t conduct business. That or the board’s rules need to be changed wrt how many members constitute a quorum. If you’ve got a Board of 7 people, for instance, it’s ridiculous to require 6 for a quorum. Usually, a simple majority is sufficient.

    8. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I was going to say this. In my state, officers have to wear their weapons while in uniform especially if technically on duty or on call. And honestly, if he is serving as a board member, the may well be allowing him to be “on duty” when he’s participating in board meetings. And if that is the case, he has no choice but to wear uniform and weapons, or not participate on the board.

  2. Formerly Ella Vader*

    #1. Is there any group or person at your organization with a mandate to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity? They might have something to say about whether having a police officer in uniform present as part of hiring interviews might be unwelcoming to minority candidates, especially right now. It might be worth trying to schedule interviews for when the officer doesn’t need to be in uniform.

    1. a sound engineer*

      Worst case, when scheduling the interview they can give candidate a heads up when going over all the other interview logistics: “Just to let you know, board member X who will be at the interview is a police officer and usually [on duty / on call / whatever], so don’t be startled if you walk in and he’s sitting there in full uniform.”

    2. Ana Gram*

      This is a good point. I’m a cop (who hires cops and civilians) and we specifically do not conduct interviews in uniform because there’s an intimidation’s element that may be present that shouldn’t be. Hopefully, people who are disturbed by police officers aren’t applying to work with us but I would expect library applicants to be somewhat flustered by the presence of a uniformed officer at their interview.

      1. UKDancer*

        I think that’s very sensible of you although if you were applying for a job as a police officer or support staff you might well expect the police to be in uniform when interviewing you.

        If I were applying for a job as a librarian I’d be very flustered to be interviewed, unexpectedly by an armed police officer because it’s not a thing one would expect to see in a library interview. I think, in the interests of putting candidates at ease, it would be good to just say “Bob, who is on the panel is a police officer so may attend in uniform.” That way people know this is a routine thing and aren’t taken aback.

    3. Cj*

      OP doesn’t say the cop was in uniform during the interview, just that he was carrying his gun. If it was in a holster under a jacket, the OP may have noticed it because she seen him carry his gun most of the time, but the interviewee may not have.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        I’d be more alarmed by someone in civilian clothes with a sidearm than an officer in uniform if I didn’t know the person in civilian clothes was a cop.

        1. Crivens!*

          Yup. Whether it was a cop or a civilian who always carries a gun, I wouldn’t take the job. I don’t want to work with either population.

    4. Silverose*

      I hate to break it to everyone, but small towns in the US aren’t generally interested in increasing their diversity on staff anyway, so while OP may care, the board and the rest of the town won’t. I worked at one small town library, and lived in another small town for a few years using that library. Small towns are homogeneous for a reason, and people who look “diverse” are suspect – to everyone in town. They view it as protecting the quiet in their town, even as they are being prejudiced and bigoted about it. So no, this town will never see a problem with a board member cop, in or out of uniform, sitting in on interviews because in the eyes of townsfolk, “if the interviewee is scared of cops, we don’t want them anyway because they must have done something wrong.”

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, I think this is the heart of the issue. It’s not hard to understand why marginalized people and their allies would be put off by having a cop in uniform on the board and conducting interviews. It’s just not a complicated or difficult concept. But people pretend not to understand, because they just really don’t care – or, like you said, they consider it a good thing.

        There’s a lot of hand wringing about brain drain from the rural US, but with this kind of viewpoint being so common, what do people expect? If small towns want young professionals to stick around (and contribute to their tax base), they need to change their mindset. If not… well, there’s a reason rural towns are dying out.

        1. Sunflower*

          Right after the 2016 election I read a great article on Cracked called ‘How half of America lost it’s effing mind’ and it really hit the nail on the head of what is going on in small towns. I re-read it every 6 months or so because it lays out very clearly the divide of rural vs urban towns and where it comes from.

    5. Allypopx*

      Yeah I had this thought too but the comments pretty much confirmed for me that no one is going to go this route.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Yeah, that’s an excellent point. I know I’d be really uncomfortable around police or security guards these days (I know there are good ones. I just haven’t seen many)

    7. Ryn*

      I would straight up walk out of an interview and withdraw my application if I saw a uniformed, armed cop there.

  3. MGW*

    For LW #3: sometime in the last year (COVID has made things a blur!) there was a big uproar about someone saying that it was unprofessional for female doctors to have bikini photos on social media. The mass response? Female doctors posting bikini photos and talking about how posting themselves in swimwear shouldn’t affect how they are perceived in a professional capacity!
    (I’m in the veterinary medicine field and even though we aren’t human doctors I saw a lot of vets joining in!)

    1. Jay*

      That was in response to an execrable journal article that actually made it through peer review. The “study” looked at the social media presence of junior vascular surgeons (IIFC residents, fellows, first-year attendings) and discussed the prevalence of “unprofessional” postings. They included “women in bikinis” on their list of “unprofessional” images. The journal retracted the article after the backlash. My favorite follow-up was this one:

    2. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Yes – it was an article in a medical journal that said it. I immediately thought of that.
      ‘the Journal of Vascular Surgery, suggested that patients may choose their hospital, doctor or medical facility based, in part, on how professional a doctor’s publicly available social media content appears. It’s very creepy. Apparently bikinis are an issue – men make sure you post bikini shots.

      The researchers created fake social media profiles in order to study each medical professional’s personal photos and determined that 61 of the 235 medical residents they studied had “unprofessional or potentially unprofessional content,” according to

      I got this a Huffpost article with the title ‘Doctors Post Bikini Photos To Protest Study That Calls Them Unprofessional’.

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        Whoops – It’s very creepy. Apparently bikinis are an issue – men make sure you post bikini shots. In wrong place!

    3. JustaTech*

      Do people really look up doctors on social media? I mean, I get looking up a surgeon or GP on the professional sites and reading their bio on their website, but I’m not going to try to sift through Twitter to see if the person doing a hip replacement has pictures of their scuba lesson.

      1. LunaLena*

        I would imagine that, for some people, their doctors pop up on their social media as “you may know this person.” I’m not on social media at all except for LinkedIn, but I have a very common name/email combo so there have been cases where someone signed up for Facebook using my email (I had the devil of a time getting it taken down again too). I immediately got swamped with Facebook messages of “here are some suggested Friends to start you out” from Facebook going through my contacts, including people I had emailed once five years ago.

    4. LW #3*

      Thanks so much! I’ve done some reading on this topic today, and it’s definitely helped me feel better about my own social media :)

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Wait, wait, wait…you mean my doctor *also* has a body??

      Is that why *she* is so good at her job, because she can relate to having aches and pains? My mind, it is blown…

      (End sarcasm mode)

      -A cis man

    6. llamaswithouthats*

      “Don’t post pictures of yourself in a bikini” was common career advice directed at women when I was in college. It always made me angry, because I knew there wasnt an equivalent stigma for guys wearing swimming trunks while shirtless.

  4. Baron*

    OP #1: Former small-town library director here. I share your concerns about this, but most library directors in your situation (out-of-towner, new to a small community) don’t have a lot of political capital with which to push back against board members on things like this. It’s hard enough when it’s an ethical concern or when it’s something directly affecting library operations, and it’s harder still when it’s something like this. I wish you the best of luck.

    1. CowWhisperer*

      I moved into a small town after I got married. The main difference is that I married into a family where the in-laws thought they had a great reputation in town and a lot of clout – but they honestly had neither.

      Spend time right now building capital. Figure out what the small town needs from the library – reliable internet access? Job searching help? Tips on writing resumes? Community activities that work with COVID? – and focus hard on getting/keeping those things.

      The other way to build capital in a small-town is to be a part of the town community. Churches held all sorts of social activities and fundraisers before COVID; go to those. Ditto for big community-wide school events like Homecoming and any local festivals. Shop in the local businesses. Get food from the local restaurants. Walk in the local park. Get your car repaired at the local mechanic. Most people won’t say much when you do these things – but they remember and it all adds up.

      Good luck; keep on keeping on.

    2. Person of Interest*

      For the LW – have you had a 1-1 conversation with this board member, just to ge to know them, understand why they come to meetings in uniform and with their firearm, etc., to discuss perception of how it appears to interviewees and how you could both work to mitigate that, etc.? Seems like we all have our own thoughts but maybe you haven’t discussed this with the one person who could really help you. As a nonprofit person myself, it’s not uncommon to have 1-1 convos with each board member about their role, so it shouldn’t feel too much beyond the scope.

      1. ele4phant*

        I…I don’t know about this.

        She’s already brought up her concerns to the rest of the board, and had them brushed off.

        She is clearly the outlier here. It may be helpful for her to have a conversation to get the “why” so she can get educated about the culture she’s now operating in, as it doesn’t seem to come intuitively to her. But her perception of the problem isn’t shared, not with her board and not with the wider community she’s trying to serve.

        She can’t yet insist upon problems or work towards mitigations. She needs to educate herself about the values and attitudes of the community she’s now in.

        Not to say there isn’t opportunity to instigate change, but to change hearts and minds you need to build trust, and you need to understand the environment you’re operating in. She doesn’t, yet, and doesn’t seem like she’s making the effort to try.

        1. Person of Interest*

          That’s why the 1-1 is an important strategy – allows her to build rapport and trust with individuals as she gets to know the community better. Sure the group as a whole didn’t think the issue mattered, but she might find out more details of why, or she might find that some people actually do think it’s an issue and want to explore solutions with her.

  5. Lonely Aussie*

    I’d find it incredibly off-putting to walk into a job interview and come face to face with a cop in uniform (and even more so if armed). It’d feel like a powerplay and would probably put me off working for the organisation.
    I’d imagine it would be even more confronting if I belonged to a group who have been and still are treated horribly by the police.
    I wouldn’t have thought that a cop on call would be allowed to do another job at the same time anyway.
    I wonder if approaching it from the angle that it could turn off certain minorities would get through to the board.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Not police, but I remember years ago that on-call firefighters could do another job, but they had to be within several minutes of the fire station when the call out came in. The fire station was near my school, so they worked as caretakers.

    2. Sylvan*

      It could put me off, too, but I don’t think he can opt out of being armed. If he’s allowed to be on the board in uniform, that’s unfortunately how it’s going to be. I don’t think OP can change it.

    3. MK*

      In my country police officers aren’t allowed to have other paying jobs, period. But it sounds as if this might a non-paid position.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        Depending on the make up of the board, his might be a non-exec position (sometimes a requirement for certain boards)
        I’m not in the US, so the whole gun thing unnerves me, but even being interviewed by a policeman in uniform unarmed would probably put me off wanting to work for that company.

        1. MK*

          Ok, but I don’t see that as an argument the OP can use. This organization has a police officer serving in a leadership position, even if he wasn’t conducting interviews in uniform and gun. One could say that if you have an issue with the police being involved in your workplace, this isn’t the job for you.

          1. Batty Twerp*

            I’m not sure why he would be interviewing if he is non-exec though. My understanding of the role of NEDs is that they’re not involved in the day to day management/operations, so the only people they would be interviewing would be other directors (since a NED is usually in a position to determine ED remuneration).
            Might be different in a small town with fewer alternatives, but if I’m interviewing for a lower-mid level admin role and a Non-Exec director interviews me dressed in his police uniform, I would be wondering how the rest of the organisation is run, and likely self-select out if I have a choice.

            1. MK*

              I really don’t think this applies to a two-person small town library. They likely have a small board (3 or 5 persons) who have to do lots of different things.

        2. LGC*

          I mean, I am in the US and it’d unnerve me too to be interviewed by an officer in uniform!

          But I also think that it’s partly the “weird” dynamics in play. (I’m putting this in quotes because it is weird to me, but definitely not to others.) Where I’m from (the suburban Northeast), it’d definitely be weird…but it sounds like LW1 might be in a rural area, just based on their description of the library and its location. In a lot of small towns, you do have people with overlapping roles (like, the mayor is the grocery store owner is the local bartender, or things of that nature). So, like, everyone in the town already knows Officer Friendly is on the library board, and him being in uniform might be treated the same way as Farmer John showing up in his work clothes.

          (I never thought I’d actually be defending the police, but here I am.)

          1. Cj*

            Did I miss something in the letter or what? Commenters keep mentioning the cop being in uniform during the interview, and I can’t find that anywhere in original letter. Just that he had his gun at an interview.

            1. SomebodyElse*

              “One of the members of the board I report to is a police officer, and he comes to meetings in his full uniform, weapons included.”

              “He even brought his gun when he was on a panel interviewing potential new employees!”

              I think people are inferring from the two sentences here.

              1. Cj*

                The fact that they specifically stated uniform and gun for the meeting, and just gun for the interview made me believe the opposite.

          2. Nora*

            I sorted through why I’d personally be uncomfortable being interviewed by a uniformed LEO as an applicant, and I think it’s the subtext of this person having authority over me in ways that extend outside of the interview itself.

        3. abcd*

          Is it possible the police officer is in a community liaison position? I know of small towns that specifically request a member of law enforcement be on the board or town council to act provide a different viewpoint that citizens may not think of.

      2. Lynn Marie*

        Yes, this is a voluntary position in a small town, and the board is lucky to have a police officer who is aware of how important libraries are to a small community and want to be involved.

        1. EPLawyer*

          THANK YOU. Small town. There’s probably not a lot of people who want to BE on the board. You can take who is willing. Also, we WANT cops to see citizens as PEOPLE, not just “perps” or whatever. Serving on the Board is good for police-community relations. Also as someone from a small town with an incredibly small police force, everyone in OP’s town probably knows Officer Jon Snow. He probably gives talks in the school about safety. You probably run into him at the grocery store.

          As for his having to leave meetings, welcome to the life of a smal town cop. His boss knows he is at the meetings and probably signed off on it. But if he is needed to do his job, he is needed to do his job. There is probably no one else to call. Unfortunately, the inconvenience of no longer having a quorum is secondary to whatever public safety incident is going on at the moment. The burglar alarm going in the local market that is owned by the nice couple who always says hi to you and asks about your family? yeah more important than your meeting.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            I am on my town’s library board and I can confirm that it is not very exciting. I do it because I love my library and want to serve my community, not because I gain anything personally from it. We review expenses and revenues (“What’s this ‘aquarium maintenance $5?'” “Oh right of course it makes sense that overdue fine collections have declined 36% over last year”) and talk about expansion strategies and hear about inter-library loan statistics and review the annual financial report. It’s kind of boring.

          2. Lyra Silvertongue*

            If you want cops to see citizens as people, presumably you also want citizens to see cops as people. This is made significantly more difficult if the cop is presenting as a cop 100% of the time, including in explicitly non-cop duties. People are not ignorant of the dynamics of small towns, they’re just not willing to roll over and unquestioningly accept it – there’s a difference.

          3. Black Horse Dancing*

            I live in a small town. Many people would like to be on the boards of various community projects but can’t due to work, health, etc. I think you’re overstating when you say not a lot want to be on the board. Not a lot CAN be on the board.

            1. A*

              Ok, yes that is true. But that doesn’t change the overall point that there is a often a limited pool of interested and able parties. Whether or not committees like these are accommodating enough to allow for greater participation is a different conversation.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        Board of Directors of a small-town library? Not a chance in the world that it is a paid job. This is volunteer work.

        1. NoviceManagerGuy*

          Yeah, small towns rely on a huge amount of volunteer work to manage their operations.

          Also, people seem unaware that the library is part of the same government that employs the police.

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            No kidding. I’d bet good money the town’s entire fire department is volunteer, much less things like their library board.

            1. Drago Cucina*

              Because a lot of people think libraries get everything for free. The number of people who think libraries get books for free is mind boggling. I had a long conversation with someone who didn’t understand that the library didn’t have a business relationship with Google and made money from them. Yes, the library has to pay utilities. No, everyone at the library isn’t a volunteer. Yes, I have a master’s degree. No, you cannot run a library with just volunteers. Yes, there are some publishers that refuse to license eBooks to libraries.

              Name the misconception and I can name at least 10 people who have asked/commented on it.

            2. AJ*

              As a small town library director, I can confirm that people often have a mental disconnect when it comes to libraries as government agencies. That’s often to our advantage (people distrust government, but trust libraries).

        2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          There may be a stipend if it’s an elected position in the town.

          At the first library where I worked (similar size, very small town, where the board was elected by general vote of the town), there was a stipend of $25 a year, for serving on any town board (while the town council got a stipend of $2k a year for their service). There was a lot of grumbling when the town meeting voted to increase that board stipend from it’s previously approved value of $5 a year (voted into place the 1970s), in the early 2000s.

          But, positions with stipends are not typically considered to be the same as a paying job, in most states – precisely because of how small they often are.

          1. Brett*

            Police officers (and other merit-based municipal employees) cannot hold elected office. There may be a state where they can, but I am not aware of one.

            1. Miss Libby*

              Where I live, municipal employees can hold elected office, but may need to abstain from voting on certain issues (i.e., their own pay raise). They could also be elected to jurisdictions other than the one that they work for. For example, a city police officer could serve on the county board – separate jurisdictions. Library boards in my state are typically appointed positions by the county board or city council, not elected.

    4. a sound engineer*

      I agree that it’s intimidating, and think that if they’re not already warning candidates it might be a good thing to mention when setting up the interviews so that the person isn’t walking in and suddenly confronted with an armed police officer. (And ideally the officer is aware that this may cause some people to be uncomfortable or wary, and is addressing it the minute candidate walks in the door that makes them feel more at ease)

      However, if the town is small enough that everyone is holding a couple jobs and community positions, it wouldn’t feel nearly as strange or intimidating to me.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, I think it’s a much better use of capital for the OP to spend it on making sure people are made aware that there would be an armed police officer on the interview panel. I would be quite taken aback (but then I live in a country where we don’t routinely arm the police and where the police don’t wear uniforms off duty) so a warning would be appreciated.

        I think it’s likely to be a lot more successful to approach it from that angle rather than trying to change what the police officer does. Particularly given that the OP is fairly new in the job so doesn’t have vast amounts of capital.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Very much agree. A warning takes very little effort, is unlikely to be denied, and will make things a bit better.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Likely a good portion of the interviewees are local and already know him. It’s not some strange man armed and in uniform, it’s Bob who is married to their cousin’s wife’s hairdresser and who they run into regularly in the local restaurant.

        1. anonforthis*

          Sure, but evidently not everyone working there is drawn from the immediate area or OP wouldn’t have gotten hired. In any case, I’m not sure if a hiring process that implicitly selects for “people who are From Around Here and are comfortable with armed police officers” is a great process – it seems pretty contradictory to the diversity and inclusion efforts usually promoted here. I think that if (and I acknowledge that this is a big if) the OP has capital to push for anything, it should be the interview thing.

    5. Asenath*

      People who are on call routinely participate in community and other activities. All that’s required is that they can be contacted immediately, and close enough to the workplace to respond.

    6. Esmeralda*

      Serving on the library board is unpaid, I’ll bet, and not a job in the sense of employment in any case.

    7. Anne Elliot*

      “I’d find it incredibly off-putting to walk into a job interview and come face to face with a cop in uniform (and even more so if armed).”

      This is completely dependent on your field, of course. I work in a law enforcement adjacent field and no one would bat an eye at seeing any number of people in uniform, complete with service weapon, performing any number of office functions, including interviews. In fact, several floors below me right now are dozens of HQ-level LEOs (well, it would be dozens before the Rona) who have absolutely no need to be carrying guns, but all of whom are doing so, because if you are in uniform, you need to have your duty belt on, complete with weapon. The only concession to office work is that they don’t have to wear their bullet-proof vests.

      To me, the likely answer to the OP’s question is that the officer is not permitted to be in uniform without his or her service weapon, and it’s as simple as that. So you can’t really ask them to not bring their gun but you might be able to ask them not to attend while in uniform, although the potential that they are there while “on call” indicates to me they likely need to be in uniform as well. Speaking personally, and as someone who works with officers, I am far more comfortable with a cop in uniform having a gun, than a person in plain clothes who is packing, and who may be a cop or may be a nutter, in a society where gun culture seems to have led to a proliferation of nutters.

  6. AnneMoliviaColemuff*

    I absolutely understand #1’s discomfort, but I personally wouldn’t have raised the issue in the first place.
    My understanding of small town policing is that they’re sort of in a constant state of flux between on/off duty. They’re going to need to be on call more often because of the smaller staffing numbers, but the likelihood of them getting called is smaller. If he’s going to be (potentially) be called out, he needs to be in uniform and armed.

    While the political climate around police forces is hot, they tend to be extremely respected and valued in smaller communities still, and protesting his involvement in the board when you don’t (yet) have a lot of standing is only going to lose you momentum.

    1. Derivative Poster*

      Agreed. I’ve lived in a small town (although probably not quite as small as the OP’s, based on the library staff size), and her objections seem out of step with the culture in much of the rural USA. I hope the OP has mentors who have worked in similar organizations and can provide ideas on how (or whether) the OP can handle challenging situations she encounters in her new role.

      1. Derivative Poster*

        Sorry, that should read “how (or whether) the OP SHOULD handle challenging situations.” I didn’t mean to suggest that the OP is incapable, just that some issues may be a losing battle and a more experienced person can help with identifying those.

    2. allathian*

      I’m neither in the US nor in a small town, but this post absolutely makes sense. In a metro area it would give off a completely different vibe. That said, I’m in a country where cops routinely don’t carry arms beyond tasers, pepper spray, and truncheons, and only special forces that are called in when there’s a more serious crime going on, like a hostage situation, are allowed to carry them as a part of their uniform. Suicide by cop is almost never successful here and any time a cop fires a gun it’s headline news.

      1. Emma*

        Yeah. The advice makes sense in the context of what I know about US policing and gun culture. But the whole post also makes me *really* glad that police where I live don’t have guns (also, can you imagine the headlines if an off duty cop nicked a taser from the station and used it???)

      2. E*

        Yep, I’m pretty sure I’ve never been in a closed room with somebody who had a firearm. Including my 6 years in Australia where the police do have guns.

        (A closed CAR, yes, in an odd situation where I was supposed to be in an armoured car for a trip to the airport but it wasn’t available and a guard jumped into the front passenger seat with a massive gun instead… neither in the USA nor my home country there!)

      3. James*

        The taser thing may help put this issue into perspective.

        I have a heart condition. If I get hit with a taser it’s reasonably certain I’m going to die. There’s not going to be much anyone can do to save me, either–my heart will simply stop working. I am, justifiably I believe, FAR more afraid of tasers than of guns. After all, there’s a much better chance I’ll survive a gun shot.

        Now let’s say I’m a new person on a BOD that includes a cop that routinely comes in in uniform, including a taser. This will make me very uncomfortable. Should I push to get the cop to stop carrying the taser? How much political capital is it going to cost me, and should I be putting that capital to better use?

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I’m epileptic and am really, really afraid of ever getting hit by a taser. I think if I saw someone carrying one I’d have appreciated a warning. Doubtful I’d ever have the capital to get them to stop carrying them.

    3. a sound engineer*

      Yeah, your second paragraph makes a good point: continuing to push this is not going to help OP integrate into the community at all, and will probably end up doing the opposite.

    4. WS*

      I live in a very small town (800 people in town, another 1300 people scattered over a wide area) and it’s very common for people to be on call but not on duty and be wearing uniforms etc. because of that. I’m in Australia where the police do have guns but gun laws are very strict and shootings very rare. If the police officer is on call, they will show up in uniform, including weaponry. Ambulance officers on call will show up in the ambulance, a meeting or any sport can stop any time for the fire brigade (all volunteers) to run off and fight a fire. This is completely normal in a small town and something you need to get used to.

      If you don’t have a quorum without the police officer, can you plan to have extra people at meetings where the police officer is present? Are your numbers entirely dependent on this one person?

    5. Smithy*

      This makes so much sense. My mom lives in suburb that has its own very small police force and this past a year a significant number of homes had BLM/Defund the Police signs in their yards, during COVID. I also saw some of the same homes taking advantage of the police/fire departments’ offer to have police/fire truck mini parades go past the homes of their children having their birthdays.

      Just to echo that even in a small community with an active debate about the context of the police, the relationship to the local police department remained different and just a more complex conversation.

      I believe that the OP makes a very real point about the potential impact of an armed police officer at an interview for a library position….but just that it would likely take a LOT of capital to change that.

    6. Lacey*

      Yup. I’ve lived and worked in a number of small towns and cops are basically always on call – because there’s like four of them!

      Also agree about how police officers are perceived in small towns. And a lot of times there’s a good reason for that. There’s a big difference in how police officers in small, rural towns behave – even if you’re comparing them with the police in a small city only half an hour away.

      Plus, if the OP is new to the area the work is even more up hill, because it’s just 1000% harder to get credibility in a small rural town you didn’t grow up in. They’ll be nice, but they will not respect your opinions very much.

      1. Pippa K*

        Yes on the small force size – at a community picnic a couple of years ago I noticed the local fuzz in uniform and idly remarked ‘looks like the whole police department’s put in an appearance.’ My husband replied ‘really, both of them?’

    7. James*

      I grew up in rural Ohio, with several family members in the police force. This is exactly what happens. Being a police officer in a small town isn’t a job, it’s a role in the community. On duty or off, you’re a cop. And often community outreach is part of their job. We had a cop come into school for various talks, we had cops participate (in uniform) in church socials (including setting up and taking down tents, running games, even running the beer tent, not just security). Could be that this cop’s boss WANTS the cop involved in the library and considers it a good use of on-duty time. Part of this could be, as you say, the political climate is hot; having police be seen in the community acting as part of the community is something some departments are doing to help diffuse this tension.

      Even if the cop’s not officially on duty, it could be that he has reasonable expectation of being called on. The fact that he was called away more than once demonstrates this. Speaking as someone who’s house was recently broken into, citizens do not want the cops to have to run and grab their side arm before responding to an emergency. We want the cops there as quickly as possible. The cop is also responsible for the side arm, and leaving it in the car is an invitation for trouble. (I’ve known cops who ALWAYS have their gun on them, on duty or off, and have never known one to keep it in the office.) Small towns aren’t safe towns, they’re just better at covering up the problems, and getting ahold of a cop’s gun is not a minor issue. I know at least one small town with a major international drug pipeline running through it; you can imagine how an unguarded police side arm would be viewed in such a situation.

      He also could be going to/coming from his shift. I remember once helping a sibling buy a car from my cousin who was a cop. My cousin came down in full kit–body armor, side arm, the works. He was just selling a car to someone he grew up with, but it was easier to get dressed before we came over than to rush to get dressed after we left. That same cousin would show up to family gatherings in full kit as well if he had to go to work/was just coming off work; it was a way to maximize time spent doing the thing, rather than wasting time getting changed. (As an aside, I had another cousin on the other side of my family join the fire department and try that. Turns out fire fighters actually do need to get changed. He was informed of that quite vigorously by his wife!)

      I get the trepidation the LW has. The members of my family that aren’t cops don’t exactly trust cops; our relationship with police was not cordial (it crossed the line into open harassment, in fact). My father refused to speak to my cousin for six months after he joined the force, and there’s still a lot of tension with that relative. But it’s not like this dude’s a random guy with a gun. His job requires him to have it. It’s very likely that any pushback is going to be seen as telling the cop that he’s not allowed to be on the BOD because he is a cop. Doesn’t matter if that’s not how it was intended, that’s how it’s going to be read. The only way around this is to become an established board member, one that other people trust, and then make it clear that the “cop” part isn’t the issue, just the “side arm” part. And even then it would really only work if it was known that you and the cops were at least on friendly terms (as in, “invited to my kid’s birthday party” friendly).

    8. Sandman*

      I sit on a couple committees with officer from both our city police and county sheriffs office, and this is exactly right. They always have their service weapons on them and it’s a non-issue. This would be perceived as a very, very strange thing to push back on in my community. I would guess that we share similar opinions on the role of guns in society right now – not a fan – but even I wouldn’t have your back on this one (sorry). It also sounds like you may need to expand your Board if having one person missing means you don’t have a quorum (I lead a nonprofit having a similar issue right now, so I’m sympathetic to the challenge recruiting Board members can pose).

  7. AnotherLibrarian*

    OP #1: As someone who knows a lot of library directors in small rural places and has worked in a rural public library, I am going to suggest that you may not have the political capital to spend on this. You say you’re both young and an outsider. That’s a bad combo in small town library directorship and a super hard one to overcome. So, I would let this one go and focus on how you can build up political capital.

    1. Kimmybear*

      Yup. From a small town and familiar with library politics and agree there probably isn’t much you can do about this officer. I completely support your position and concerns and would encourage growing your board so that his participation doesn’t affect your ability to conduct business. It would also allow rotations of who can conduct interviews so it’s not always someone in uniform.

    2. Dewey Decibal*

      Absolutely agree with this. I worked at a small-town library (director plus 4 part timers) and there’s no way you’d have the political capital to change this. It also is likely coming across as you not understanding the community you serve- I can’t say I would have batted an eye if an armed officer was in the building simply because there were so few of them in the town that they were always on call.

      1. In my shell*

        +1 It’s likely that OP1 continuing with this line of thinking would lead to the board questioning the “fit”.

    3. Sara without an H*

      Been there, done that. OP#1, you need to spend your time learning the community, building alliances, and acquiring a positive local reputation.

    4. YetAnotherLibrarian*

      As a library director in a very conservative state I have seen a number of new library directors lose their board’s support. Cultural differences like this issue are often at the root of the issue. The board has indicated it is not a concern for them and therefore it likely isn’t in the community. You do not yet have the capital to change this.
      It may make it harder to recruit employees from outside the area. But maybe you don’t need to focus on that right now. I encourage you to take a long view. Build up your relationship with the board. Once they trust you and trust that you understand them, you can work to push on the issues that will best serve the community.

  8. GS*

    #5 – I have run into that quite a bit. There’s no nice way I’ve found to be like “I am not as invested in your life as to receive monthly updates.” I think college students all get the same advice, but some handle it a bit worse than others. I’ve just mostly been like thanks for sharing good luck!

    1. Reba*

      I agree, that advice is out there but not a sense of norms about how much to communicate,or even what the purpose of the communication is supposed to be. I’ve had conversations about this with interns (current and recent students). “I haven’t been updating this professor, will they still write me a recommendation?” “I’m know I’m supposed to update my contacts, but I haven’t really done anything to share with them!”

      I would like to think that I would tell OP5’s young charge something like “it’s inappropriate for you to demand my time/my replies to your updates. I was glad to get coffee with you and I’ll be happy to hear from you when you are job searching or get a position (or whatever you would accept) but I don’t have the time for regular correspondence.” But in reality I might just give chill, minimal answers, too.

    2. Cat Tree*

      This particular guy kind of reminds me of the guys I would go on one date with and they would start texting me every day. It’s some kind of weird blend of arrogance and insecurity to think that others are so interested in them but without reciprocating that interest. Maybe he was told to “sell himself” but doesn’t realize he should at least feign interest in the job/industry even if he doesn’t have a genuine interest in learning more about it.

      FWIW, I guess I went to a unicorn school with a good career center. We had networking events with various groups on campus, but it was always clear that true networking develops organically as you work with people. So I don’t think bad advice is universal.

    3. tamarack and fireweed*

      I still think there’s an option in the middle between the two that Alison suggested (which amount to making an excuse for answering late on the one hand and brushing the student off with directness on the other). I’d probably go for something like “Glad to hear you’re doing well. Best of luck, and if you have any specific request from me, let me know.”

  9. Taxachusetts*

    OP2 I agree with letting this gonif it doesn’t affect your job. Being able to focus on yourself and not pay attention to whatever is going on with your co workers will serve you well. You also never know what is going on with someone and what sort of arrangements they have worked out behind the scenes. If you keep bringing something like this to your manager that will just hurt you.

    1. allathian*

      But if it does affect the LW, it’s still something to bring up. Not necessarily in a petulant “it’s unfair that X can leave early every day when I have to stay until COB” sense but in a “X leaves early nearly every day and it means I have to do more work” if that is indeed the case. If nothing else, the fact that this early leaving is apparently causing resentment among the rest of the staff is something that a good manager would want to know.

      1. Relevant experience*

        I would definitely start with the first point in Alison’s advice: Don’t complain to the manager, just start leaving five minutes earlier than the other staffer. If it becomes a problem, the supervisor will have to crack down, and there’s no reason to punish you for something your manager gave prior approval for.

        1. Yorick*

          This is probably not a good solution. Everything has been fine because OP and another coworker stay. If they start leaving early and everything falls apart, OP could be the one who is blamed. I think another talk with the manager, where they spell out how often the coworkers leave early and how that’s affecting them, is the way to go.

          1. GottaLoveMaliciousCompliance*

            I had the immediate reaction of “yes, a good malicious compliance will do!” but as I thought about it more I think you’re right that this could backfire on OP. If this action gets the manager to crack down on anyone leaving early for any reason, if OP ever needed to leave early then now that option is taken off the table for good!

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            OP could say “I need to leave 10 minutes early today, but that’s going to be a problem is Bob also leaves early, as he generally does. Can we ask that he stay until 5:00 today?”

          3. Tired of Covid-and People*

            Why would OP be blamed? Sorry, all this sounds like tattling. How much work gets done in five or ten minutes? OP should stop babysitting her coworker. I say when you are watching the time of your coworkers so closely, you aren’t attending to your own work. MYOB.

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        One has to wonder how much it does affect the LW versus just perceived as unfair. I get they are a call center and have to be available to calls. What are the frequency of these calls? Are calls being put on hold because coworker leaves? Or are the calls not that frequent and who knows if there is a difference? That matters because one is a legit work complaint and the other is being petty.

        1. abcd*

          Exactly. I supervise a small call center. After 5PM, our calls drastically decrease. We typically have 2 people in office after 5PM. If some of them left early, the other could handle the calls. I would not be concerned unless it happened constantly.

          I get that its annoying, but you don’t know the arrangements they’ve made with the supervisor/manager, nor do you know why they are leaving early. Is it impacting you in a negative way, or just something you see and don’t like? Also, its possible your supervisor has addressed it with the offenders, but isn’t telling you the action they’ve taken.

          1. tamarack and fireweed*

            I’ve been in jobs where answering the phone is part of the job, even though time on the phone wasn’t a majority of the work day. Calls that come in in the last few minutes of the workday would be somewhat less than welcome because there was a chance they’d need some last-minute action or scrambling around.

            Most people want to use the last few minutes of the workday to tidy up, review the task list, things like that. Last minute annoyances should be shared equitably, just as the small perk of leaving a few minutes early if necessary (or if the work is done). If I benefit from end-of-day mini-perks a few times I would expect to make sure my coworkers get the next dibs. (“Thanks for covering on Tuesdays when I have to run to my [X appointment]. Make sure you, too, get out early once in a while. Just let me know and I’ll do the same.”) Not doing that, only looking out for opportunities to get a small advantage over the co-workers is just uncollegial behavior. A small incivility. And those who do this should get judged on it. If they’re particularly grabby they can deprive their co-workers of a small but sometimes valuable bit of flexibility.

  10. nnn*

    Possible option for #1: “Maybe we should schedule the next meeting for a time when Bob isn’t on call?” or “Bob, is there a time when you’re not on call when it might be more convenient to schedule the meeting?”

    The tone and delivery would be entirely “It must be so hard on Bob to be so tightly scheduled like this!” with nothing whatsoever about the gun and the uniform, since the board has already established that they don’t see anything wrong with the gun and the uniform.

    1. MK*

      That would mean following Bob’s schedule, and if his department is small, the times when he isn’t on call could be very rare ( not a cop, but I worked in an police-investigation-adjacent role in a small town, and I was constantly on call 24/7 from September to June, except for 3 weeks at Christmas and 2 weeks at Easter).

    2. Pyjamas*

      It’s a small town. The local grapevine has already spread LW’s opinion of the officer’s gun. No tone is going to change that,

    3. WS*

      It’s possible that there is no such time (it can be 24/7 on call if the town has only 1 or 2 officers as mine does) but I think it’s worth asking if it’s that disruptive.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      As pointed out above, just because he isn’t on-call doesn’t mean he will leave his weapon at home. And that may not be personal choice, he may have regs that he has to follow.

  11. SD*

    OP 1: If your small town library has only 2 employees, I’m guessing the local police department is also small, hence the on call status of your board member. If he’s in his uniform, I’m pretty sure the gun is mandated. Were it me, I wouldn’t mind the uniform and gun at board meetings because that’s part of his job as a small town cop. Good for him for wanting to be on the library board. Leaving you without a quorum is annoying. I hope it’s a rare occurrence. But then there’s the interview problem. If the applicants are local, they probably know Officer Bob already, but regardless, he should start an interview by introducing himself and explaining why he’s in uniform. People understand being on call and could even be charmed by the cop who loves libraries so much he volunteered to be on the board. Embrace the small town thing where folks have multiple roles to play, just get Officer Bob to deal with the uniform and gun presentation by being open about it. I do hope he’s a personable guy vs a ramrod up the backside guy.

    1. Anna*

      I agree with this. In a small town (mine is about 1000 people) you really have to choose to be happy with having someone doing the job (unless they are a total jerk or something) because there are not that many people available and many people may not be interested. A police officer in a town my size is probably always on call, so saying you need to move the meetings to when he is not on call is not viable. Neither could being always on call be a disqualifier for holding a board position (even if he weren’t already on it) because too many people are always on call, for example, farmers and ranchers and people who have a day job but also farm or ranch (if the cows get out, they are leaving to deal with it – even the high schoolers), especially when you consider that there may not be many interested people in the first place.

      I think you will be best served to spend some time becoming part of the community and building connections before you try to make major changes.

  12. surprisedcanuk*

    I can see why having a cop in uniform with a gun might not be the most welcoming. I don’t think you want to upset a cop in a small town. That’s how lifetime movies start. You want to be less lifetime more hallmark movie. Hallmark mainly makes Christmas romance movies.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Guess it’s time to take a break from the big city and spend Christmas in your tiny hometown…

  13. germank106*

    LW #1. I’ve lived and volunteered for various organizations in small towns for the past 20 years. For a small town it is pretty common that people wear a lot of different hats. That includes law enforcement while on duty. As long as the officer has cleared it with his superiors that it’s okay for him to attend these meetings while on duty, there is probably nothing you can do about it. Very often law enforcement officers are on call after hours so that could account for him wearing a uniform while not working regular hours.
    Small towns function much different from larger cities. In the beginning you probably need to play along if to get along. Think what change you want to invest capital on and which ones you can let go (for now). Eventually you will get the respect you ask for but it might take quite some time. That is nothing personal but simply based on the fact that in small towns families have often known each other for multiple generations. Even after all these years of working in my community I still get introduced as “Mrs. X, she’s related to the Y family”.

    1. MK*

      And also be realistic about what change you can effect, I would say. In this particular instance, it sounds like a culture that is respectful to the police and unphased by guns. It’s unlikely that the OP will get them to share her concerns about a uniformed officer serving on the board, no matter how much capital she aquires.

    2. Cj*

      The officer being asked to be on the board in the first place would signal to me that he is well respected in the community. A new person in a small town complaining about this is not going to go over well.

    3. Ginger*


      OP – pick your battles wisely. You’ve spoken up, now move on. Speaking continuously against what is most likely a beloved local officer will not earn you any respect or brownie points from your new neighbors.

      I serve on a small town board as well and I totally get the annoyance but this is part of small(er) town life and running of boards/committees. Getting and maintaining a quorum can be tricky, getting people to log into a zoom meeting correctly is often painful… small town dynamics are WAY different than cities or private sector jobs.

      If I were you, I would spend some time learning the lay of the land – observe dynamics, get to know people behind the scenes and outside these meetings.

    4. In my shell*

      “in small towns families have often known each other for multiple generations”

      ^^^ THIS! The web of connections runs deep and wide and is so easy for an outsider to underestimate (or not even see initially)!

      1. retired*

        OP may not be a good fit for this job. There many good things about rural areas and small communities, but being “woke” is not generally one of them. Bob is likely the person who shows up in the pouring rain and fixes the wiring for your well, so you have water. I am a staunch liberal and environmentalist, for what it’s worth.

        1. In my shell*

          Unfortunately (for OP) I agree. It is so likely that Officer Bob has deep roots and loyalty to a degree that OP can’t even fathom being “from away” (in my area you’re still “from away” even if you’ve been here for 20+ years, but your parents and grandparents (and theirs…) weren’t born here. It’s not great and certainly not inclusive or progressive and work can be done to change it, but it’s the reality on the ground for now for newcomers.

          1. In my shell*

            An example:
            In the 80’s my father’s management position was “restructure” and he suddenly was looking for a job that would support our family. He was able to get a position as a mechanic based on his prior life experience, but he struggled to learn the industrial bakery machines that were unlike anything he’d worked on. He became friendly with a co-worker and the very experienced co-worker generously helped my father learn everything and he was able to perform well until he retired two decades later.

            Flash forward 25 years and I was a mid-level manager of a long-term employee who was struggling with alcoholism and a family near break-up and he got a DWI and the CEO wanted to fire him (it was a position that reputation really mattered). I worked with the CEO and employee to find a path through it and he successfully came through it and has been sober for a long time now. We later discovered that my father’s co-worker that helped our family economically recover was this employee’s father!!

            We’ve worked together for about 20 years now and there is a bond there that (at this point) *no one else knows about* (this is the kind of thing that OP is dealing with AND CAN’T SEE/KNOW), but it is very real. Small town life – where you are either related to or deeply connected to nearly everyone and that has everything to do with making it so difficult to break the “from away” assumptions.

  14. cncx*

    yeah i had a coworker who was like op2 ‘s coworker, her job was to cover the phones and do office admin, specifically fedex, and she had one train that left at 5 past the hour and so always wanted to leave at x:55, and like, fair enough, i’ve been there and everyone was cool with that.

    It started being less cool with it when she started haranguing us left in the office to leave 65 minutes early because “it was slow” and it’s like…she was on salary not hourly so a lot of us were miffed, even if there weren’t that many calls. So i really have sympathy about how OP is irked because it’s unfair but I agree with Alison- the issue needs to be more about how it is affecting people who are left to cover the phones or do the stuff the leavers would normally cover; in our case it came to a head when one of us messed up a fedex that caused our company to miss a legal deadline- because the person that usually handled fedexes was train lady and that day she had left 65 minutes late, which was well before the fedex deadline that day. that’s the type of stuff that makes coverage an issue.

    I work helpdesk where the biggest part of my job, even if it is “slow” is simply just being available during core hours- i tried to tell train lady as a friend that sometimes butt in chair *is* the job description by design and if she didn’t like butt in chair hours jobs then that was something else, but this particular job had core hours and she needed to decide if she was ok with that long term. Anyway she is now in a job where she isn’t covering phones or reception and is much happier.

    1. Cj*

      When I was working full time while finishing up my degree in night school, I wore a lot of hats at my job. While technically my job was accountant, we didn’t need a full time receptionist, so I also filled that role.

      When I graduated and passed my CPA exam, we did hire a full time admin person. She would skip her two 15 minute breaks and leave a half hour early. Yeah, no. On of the reasons she was hired was for coverage so *I* could come late/leave early. She didn’t last long.

  15. a sound engineer*

    #1 – In my experience this is pretty normal for small towns, normally people end up needing to play a few different roles just to keep things going. My grandparents lived in a tiny town, and my grandpa was a farmer, drove the ambulance for the (volunteer) fire department, is still on the board of the county fair, had an auto shop, and had a few more that I don’t remember because I was a kid and they weren’t as exciting. From what you describe, it sounds like he’s on duty or at least on-call while on these meetings, so maybe has no choice to be in uniform (and by extension with weapon) too? I would feel a little uncomfortable in the situation as well, but the context of it being a small town makes all the difference to me.

    Honestly, the bigger issue that I see seems to be that without this guy the board has no quorum and can’t get anything done. That seemed like something more useful to use your capital on (although since you’re from out of town and fighting for respect it’ll take a while to build that up). And good luck building bridges! My advice would be to get involved with whatever community activities you can, play nice, and realize that it’s probably going to take a while before you are able to truly establish yourself.

    1. a sound engineer*

      Also, with interviews, make sure it’s clarified (whether by the officer himself or someone else, but preferably the officer) that he’s currently on duty/on call and that’s the reason for the uniform/weapon if it’s not already being done!

    2. MK*

      I see a lot of comments that this is a library in a very small town, though this info isn’t in the letter. If so, they probably don’t have that many candidates to serve in a, I assume non-paying, position on the board. My experience from small towns is that not being able to have quorum is part of life.

      1. a sound engineer*

        Yeah, I wish the OP had included exactly how small “small” means. I’m not assuming it’s a tiny town like my grandparents’ (i.e. not big enough to have a stoplight) but figured it’s small enough that this isn’t as inherently weird as it would be in a big city. Hopefully they will drop by the comments and shed some light on that.

        Forgot to specify quorum is the bigger issue *if his getting called away is a common enough experience that it’s really hard to get anything done*

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Decades ago, in my town you HAD to sign up for either the fire company or the rescue squad. Not an option, you had to pick one if you were going to live here. They’ve long since changed that of course for numerous reasons. But it is kind of scary now, as there are just not enough people joining up. We have had days here if you call 911, NO ONE is coming because they are all ready on another situation.

      1. Cj*

        People who unable to do either of those because they are physically disabled, or have mental health issues, are a single parent who want be able to go on calls because they couldn’t leave their young kids alone, or like me are terrified of fire and would pass out at the sight of blood, what, just couldn’t live there?

    4. In my shell*

      “…the board has no quorum and can’t get anything done”

      Agree, but would suggest expanding the board by two if possible and to include retirees or stay at home/WFH parents. We’ve found those folks to be by far the most reliable for our quorums for obvious reasons.

  16. ACM*

    Millennial female here, with the swimsuit, I agree that the double standard is atrocious. I don’t think you have to purge your profiles of any swimsuit attire (ick), but maybe beware of strings of, like, 10-15 photos at a time of selfies/groupies in different poses in swimsuits (and I think that would apply to guys too tbh). Not saying this is you! and I personally wouldn’t make any judgements *based* on that, but strings and strings of selfies/groupies are the kind of thing that can turn people off (even just if just a subconscious eye roll). I’d also say it makes a difference how old the photos are…I probably have some pretty silly college photos up too, but they’re from 2007, so y’know. I’d just be more conscious of what photos you put up from now on rather than go on a massive purge of your old ones.

    That said, if you just make your accounts private, I think that’s all you need to do! If they really try to go digging past privacy settings that’d be kind of weird and maybe not someone you want to work for anyway.

    1. Smithy*

      I think this is a really good point. If it’s a workplace that really trying to get around privacy settings to check for drunken bachelorette party photos and whatever “naughty” halloween costume you chose once in university… that really where you want to work? I understand that the prospects for those job hunting right now is terrible, but a place that takes the time to get around Instagram privacy settings and it’s not for a job that’s security based, that really is not the norm.

      The other thing that it might be worth considering is to establish an anonymous Twitter if you are looking to maintain a degree of privacy on a site where you may still enjoy being public.

    2. LW #3*

      Thank you for your insight! My accounts are already private, but I feel like this idea of being careful on social media and your image was pushed onto me– even if you’re private!

  17. Forrest*

    LW3, the exception to Alison’s advice on social media is if you’re planning on going into teaching. Teaching is (IMO) EXCESSIVELY concerned with social media, to the extent that many of the teachers I know don’t use their own name on social media. Teachers have been censured for having photos on social media including completely ridiculous things like, “wearing a bathing suit” or “holding a glass of wine”, so many of the teaching students I know just try and skirt the whole thing by making sure there’s nothing that can be easily linked back to their name.

    (Theirs also two layers to this— there’s what a hiring committee might find in a cursory search attached to your name, and what a bored 15yo with several free hours and very good google skills might be able to find and pass around. Employers and hiring panels are not going to invest masses of time in checking your social media accounts: they’re probably going to give a cursory once-over if anything. But they’re really trying to do is make sure there’s nothing that’s going to make life *easy* for the bored 15yo.)

    However, if you’re going into teaching, you’d probably have had specific advice in this already because it is so ridiculously strict!

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      A “bored 15 year old” locally here once spent his summer holidays looking up his teachers on Facebook, found someone he thought was one of his teachers doing this publicity campaign for testicular cancer (it was a body shot, face not visible, sock covering that part of the anatomy) and circulated the photo to his friends. One friend had reported it to the school, and they were looking at whether there was any kind of disciplinary action required for the teacher.

      Turned out in the end the man in the photo was someone with the same name and was nothing to do with that teacher.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I agree about teachers, and would add social workers.

      Some teachers I know have two accounts: one clean and one real.

      So Jane Louise Smith has a “Jane Smith” account where she maybe shares articles about teaching resources, and accepts friend requests from former students who are now adults… and she also has a “Jane Louise” account where she posts memes about wine, and photos of her hotdog legs on vacation, and the dinner she enjoyed at a local restaurant. The streams never, ever cross.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Yes, a lot of my friends on Facebook are social workers or in that line, and I’ve seen combinations like Firstname Maidenname, Firstname Middlename and at least one Middlename Maidenname. Sometimes I’ve seen completely random names. So, Buffy Anne Finn whose maiden name was Summers might be Buffy Summers, Buffy Anne, Anne Summers, or something like Vamp Slayer.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        My sister in law is a teacher and there’s two types of posts on her Facebook:

        Pictures of her arts and crafts or landscape photography: posts viewable by the public.
        Pictures of her kids, holiday snaps, comments about the world in general: posts only viewable if you’re a trusted friend.

        I kinda do the same with mine. All the general public would see on my FB is that I sew and have a cat.

    3. Daffy Duck*

      My teacher friend once got chewed out by her principal for a photo taken after a development class where two glasses of what looked like alcohol (virgin daiquiris) were sitting on the table near her (not hers but at the table). A parent saw it on someone else’s social media and complained … about women in their 40s and 50s sitting in a chain restaurant having dinner. The morality police are pretty crazy when it comes to teachers.

      1. Forrest*

        see, this is where I’m torn, because I think there’s a thing where as a teacher or social worker, you need to be realistically concerned about what it’s going to do your ability to command students’ respect if there are teenagers passing around pictures of you in a bikini, but also there’s a point where management need to come out and say, “absolutely Not, our teachers are entitled to private lives, we will not entertain this nonsense.”

        1. hbc*

          I hate the logic underlying this. “I totally respect your right to wear a swimsuit in public, but someone else doesn’t respect you for it, so therefore I’m firing you. Not for wearing a swimsuit in public, but for being seen wearing a swimsuit. Which is not the same thing for some reason.”

          I mean, no one ever calls for firing the history teacher whose students don’t respect him because there’s a picture of him wearing black socks with sandals on the beach.

        2. Anon Today*

          See, I’d be more concerned about dealing with student who are passing around photos of someone in a bikini without her permission.

          1. Forrest*

            Right?! As a parent and a citizen, I think schools should be too! But I work with trainee teachers and unfortunately the message I get from the teaching professionals is that we have to be pragmatic and say that management doesn’t always side with the teachers in these situations. :(

        3. Observer*

          And exactly WHAT would it REASONABLY do to the respect toward a teacher if someone got to see a picture of the teacher in a bikini?

          We talk about how it’s useful for teachers to actually live in the communities where they teach. That is NOT POSSIBLE if the mere possibility of being seen in a bikini / at a restaurant / at a party is liable to make a teacher suddenly not worthy of respect.

          We talk about teachers being role models. How is that supposed to be possible if simply living life is expected to damage your ability to “command respect”?

          The bottom line is that this is an insane and self-destructive standard.

          1. Forrest*

            I totally agree, and it infuriates me. But in the past I’ve work with young female trainee teachers, and it’s something they are genuinely concerned about, and one of the teaching professionals has stepped in and said they’re right to be concerned and play it as safe as possible because you can’t rely on school managers to support you. It’s shitty.

          2. Forrest*

            (Also I said “realistically”, not “reasonably”! I don’t think it’s reasonable for female teachers to have to worry about that at all. But realistically, many of them do.)

            1. Observer*

              That’s actually not true. Kids do not lose respect for a teacher because they have seen them in a bathing suit. Even >gasp< a bikini.

              What is realistic to worry about is idiots who think that teachers need to pretend to be mummies.

              1. Forrest*

                Kids lose respect for teachers for all sorts of things, and for a lot of young, newly-qualified teachers, getting and maintaining authority in the classroom is a *huge* achievement. It would be great if all women in their early twenties had the poise and confidence not to care about adolescent boys finding pictures of you in a bikini, but that’s really not especially easy when you’ve grown up surrounded by the same patriarchal shite as your students, you’re only six years older than them and you’re still unlearning all this stuff.

                I would like to see people in positions of authority do a lot more to support young teachers and defend their right to privacy, but a lot don’t. I think you’ve got to accept that regardless of how great it would be if all young female teachers had both the senior backing and the confidence to blow that kind of stuff off, that’s not the reality for lots of them.

                1. Observer*

                  Please. None of that is relevant. I was a teacher, my spouse is a teacher, I have siblings, children and other relatives who are teachers. (Yes, LOTS of teachers in my family.) I also have grandchildren and nieces / nephews who range in age fro preschool to post high school.

                  The deal is that I have yet to see a situation where a competent teacher ACTUALLY loses respect because they were seen at a standard pool party or at an affair where wine was served.

                  All this talk about losing respect is nothing but concern trolling. Really.

                2. Forrest*

                  Well, I’m glad that’s your experience! I don’t think the “competent/incompetent” teacher divide is that clearcut, though, especially with people in their first few years of teaching. As I said above, I work with trainee teachers and teacher educators, and these are the conversations I’ve been part of.

          3. le teacher*

            As a teacher, I’ve always felt like we are sometimes put in an impossible bind. We are simultaneously told to be part of the community, but also to maintain the utmost professionalism at all times. In American standards, professionalism tends to mean that one does not really share their personal life with others. So it is hard to strike that balance – be a part of the community, know the parents, see them out on weekends, but then also be professional in all areas of one’s life.

            1. Observer*

              The thing is that it’s not THAT hard to stay PROFESSIONAL. The problem is that teachers are expected to live by a standard that has nothing to do with professionalism. No one considers it unprofessional for a lawyer, banker, administrator, etc. to be seen with a drink in their hands. But when a teacher is seen the same room as that drink, WE MUST TAKE ACTION. BECAUSE THINK OF THE CHILDREN! That has absolutely nothing to do with maintaining professionalism.

              1. le teacher*

                Exactly! That’s my point. Like, sometimes I genuinely get nervous about buying a bottle of wine at the grocery store (I live in the community I teach in). And I live in a pretty liberal/urban area, but there’s still this heightened sense of “must be a perfect role model AT ALL TIMES.”

                Earlier this week there was a great conversation on this site about “professionalism” and how sometimes the word is used as a weapon. I think in this case, that applies.

    4. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes teachers have a whole different level of crazy-locked-down that their social media has to be. I felt bad when a teacher friend of mine had to ask me to take down a picture from my wedding reception of her holding a glass of wine. A person in their 30s holding a glass of wine at a wedding reception? The scandal! But that’s what they have to deal with.

  18. Forrest*

    This is not to pick on LW5, because I think it’s something we all do, but “one young person did this thing I don’t particularly like, is this the norm for that age group?” is such a study of how outgroup prejudice works. It’s literally one person! There isn’t a reason to assume that it’s a norm except when you perceive the person as being different from you and therefore representative of a group rather than just themselves.

      1. Lyra Silvertongue*

        I think that’s always been the case haha. It’s a generational rite of passage to complain about and stereotype the ones younger than you!

    1. hbc*

      Yeah, I find it to be a really bad look.

      OP, you say you regularly talk to students, and it’s just this one time you encountered a pushy guy. It’s an objectively bad conclusion to draw that this guy is representative of Students These Days.

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I was thinking much the same. Sure, many young people do things that seem weird and annoying. Lots of older people do, too.

    3. Kerry*

      I had the exact same thought! It’s exhausting to come up against attitudes like that. Especially considering the LW said they do this fairly regularly with students, you’d think they already know it’s not the norm! This is just a pushy individual, and they exist in every generation.

    4. funkydonut*

      I feel like letter writers to this site frame things this way All The Time. One person did something weird/annoying and they ask “what, is this the norm now?” I’m not sure why people do this but I wish they would just ask their question without trying to tie it into a societal shift.

      1. Heather*

        Seriously. At this point “is this the new norm?” seems to be a workaround for saying “this person did something annoying, please validate my opinion.”

    5. meyer lemon*

      I do think recent college grads have more of a tendency toward weird or awkward professional behaviour than the general population, just because they have less experience and are more prone to being influenced by bad career centres, bad online advice, outdated parental advice and so on. It’s possible the OP may have been wondering if this is a new, weird career centre trend or something.

      1. Forrest*

        That’s really exactly my point about outgroups — the only reason for thinking “is this single datapoint representative of a broader trend” is if you see them as a member of a group that you already have negative associations with.

    6. Nanani*

      I agree.
      Plus. given all the bad advice fresh grads are given, even if this behavior is prevalent in younger people, isn’t it simpler to conclude that this is inexperience and not *shakes fist at cloud* Kids these days?

      Don’t Grampa Simpson yourself.

  19. TheOtherSideOfThis*

    Hi OP #1 (and commenter sympathizers) – I hope I might be able to provide a perspective on the pushback you’re getting.

    You, Allison, and the majority of commenters so far appear to take it as a given that a person would be uncomfortable around firearms and/or police officers carrying service weapons.

    But there are regions where a majority of the population really, truly, do not experience this discomfort. I know that sounds condescendingly obvious, but I’m trying to frame this in a way that might let you empathize with the board before you attempt to push further.

    Have you ever encountered someone with a fear that you don’t share? Maybe they fear something you love, like dogs or driving or going outside?

    Could *you* be convinced to share that person’s fear of your own pet, or your car, or going outside?


    That is what it’s like to encounter people who are afraid of the police, or firearms, when you personally are not afraid of those things.

    I am a female private citizen who has had concealed pistol permits for two decades, and I legally carry a pistol most of the time. Unfortunately, you will not be able to persuade me to share your uneasiness about a tool I’ve been carrying for decades, any more than you can convince me to be uneasy about my own beloved well-trained dog. I have a lot more personal experience with both of them than you do, and my feelings about those experiences are going to supersede yours, no matter how strongly you feel or how many people affirm your feelings.

    The board members don’t share your uneasiness, either, based on their prior experiences. And you won’t be able to convince them to, just as you can’t be convinced to be afraid of your pet or to leave your home.

    You might be thinking, “Yeah, but they *should* be afraid of firearms and/or police officers! Look at how many people have been hurt by those things! Look at how many other people are afraid of those things just like I am!”

    And sure… except that argument also applies to dog bites and car crashes, too, and so it still won’t convince someone to be afraid of their own pet dog or driving their own car.

    I hope sharing this perspective will help you be resigned to why the board is not going to accommodate your discomfort on this issue, and why pushing harder could damage the way they see you.

    Best of luck to you going forward.

      1. Dee*

        Actually no, I take that back. It’s not just a US issue that police and guns cause harm in ways that are specific and deliberate unlike most dogs/cars or the outside.

        1. bleh*

          And I don’t think the OP asked the cop to be afraid of her own weapon, just asked them and the board to respect someone else’s conviction that a healthy fear of police officers and there guns is quite normal and logical given the realities of our culture.

          1. Observer*

            Well, actually, that’s not what the OP is doing though. They are not saying “I’m uncomfortable, is there something we can do about this?” They are saying “There IS something wrong, and I need to find some way to make the Board take action on it.”

    1. Forrest*

      I don’t think the problem is so much “persuading people to be afraid of their own dog” so much as it is “persuading people that they should care about other people’s fear of their dog and how that impacts their ability to participate in a space”.

      As Alison says, as a work question the main point is whether OP has the authority or capital to pushback on the presence of guns and uniforms in the meeting, and it sounds like she doesn’t. But as a social question, I think everyone be able to recognise other people’s discomfort and decide whether it’s something you want to contribute to or alleviate.

      1. Myrin*

        I agree completely, but I also think TheOtherSide’s comment is a helpful read because it’s not unlikely that many people around OP have the same thoughts and attitude and it’s good to have insight into that, if only to help her get clearer on how likely she is to change the opinions of those around her.

        1. Roquefort*

          The majority of people are not unaware of the existence of TheOtherSide’s viewpoint. The assumption that we must disagree because we simply don’t understand is condescending and really not required.

          1. Myrin*

            I mean, I guess? (Regarding the “majority of people are not unaware” point; I agree that the comment came across as somewhat condescending even if it was probably made in good faith.)

            Thing is, I’m not from the US and basically everything regarding “the American attitude towards guns” (which is, of course, only the pro-gun segment but which often gets emphasised heavily by foreigners) is completely alien to me. I was aware of TheOtherSide’s viewpoint in a kind of vague, abstract sort of way, but not in a way were I would’ve comprehended that there are indeed people who liken an apprehension towards guns to an apprehension towards dogs; that was, indeed, news to me, and isn’t something I can easily wrap my head around.

            But I’m very willing to accept that that might just be a lack of exposure on my part as someone who has never even been to visit the US and that the viepoint is indeed widely known within the country.

            1. tangerineRose*

              I love dogs. Well, I love nice dogs. When I meet a dog I don’t know, I’m careful. I don’t run up to the dog or hug the dog (I generally don’t hug dogs; most don’t like it), and I don’t turn my back on a dog I don’t know if I’m close enough to the dog that it could bite me.

              When it comes to guns, I want them to either be in the hands of people who are responsible with them or for the guns to be locked up. A gun can be used to protect people from a dangerous person, or a gun can be used by a dangerous person.

    2. JustKnope*

      The “tool” in question is explicitly designed to injure or kill others, whereas a dog or car are very much not! It’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise. I understand your point that discomfort around guns is not universal, and I think Alison’s answer accounts for that. But as Forrest aptly points out above, caring about others’ discomfort is important. Your line that others’ feelings will never supersede your own comes across very strangely when we’re talking about a weapon design to harm others.

    3. AnonforThis*

      Actually, to provide some perspective I work in a federal building that has armed guards, so to go to work I have to pass people carrying guns every day. This also means walking past armed guards when I drop my kid off for daycare in thr facility. I don’t have a problem with this because federal buildings have been targeted before and a family member of mine was in the Navy Yard building when all those people were killed and a friend of mine is a Senate employee who just had to be locked down during that event.

      There’s some degree of perspective. I’m not saying that there isn’t a problem with policing, I am all for police reform. But that there are also people who feel better having armed officers on their building.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Killings things that aren’t people. Lots of people hunt, either for sport or for food. Lots of people live where there is dangerous wildlife. Also, target shooting is a legit sport.

      1. FridayFriyay*

        But a gun carried by a police officer as part of their work uniform is not for either of those things.

      2. Nia*

        They say they carry the gun most of the time. What are they hunting at the grocery store? Are they target shooting at the local mall? Acab has the right of it. There’s no reason to carry a gun 99% of the time.

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Or they could be a 5′ nothing rape survivor, who wants to make sure they have something to even the odds in case they’re ever attacked again.

          Their reasons for carrying a firearm are their own, and the only person they owe any explanation to is their licensing authority (and even then, they don’t owe them much of one).

        2. Shelly574*

          No one carries a gun literally 99% of the time. However, I carry one when I’m at work. I’m a field geologist. I spend 6 to 9 months (weather dependent) in the field. When I am in the field, I am required (per insurance rules) to carry a loaded .45 revolver. I must have it within reach at all times, including sleeping. I have been licensed and tested to pass the required insurance tests. I agree that my situation is unique (most people don’t work about dangerous wildlife most of their time) however, the suggestion that there’s no rational reason someone would carry a gun is absurd.

    5. Chilipepper*

      I’ll push back and say that maybe there are ppl in town who are uncomfortable having a police officer in full uniform in job interviews or who understand others have that fear and they would like to change that. Mayne the OP raisig the issue will provide the opening they need to speak up.

      However, the OP does not have the capital to speak up yet.

      1. Observer*

        Well, the only way that the OP will ever be able to do that is if they first gain some actual knowledge and speak from a position of respect and solid information.

    6. Sylvan*

      Hunting. Self-defense, including self-defense from bears. Target shooting. Sports, basically.

      I know a lot of people who own guns for hunting. Some relatives have them for self-defense. I’ve enjoyed target shooting (and I don’t own guns or plan to).

      FWIW I’m more on the anti-gun side of things, but it does help to know a little bit more about guns.

      1. Sylvan*

        There are plenty of places where you’re more likely to meet dangerous wildlife than dangerous people. Like the place my grandparents lived, where my grandpa protected us from snakes and larger animals. That’s the place that brought bears to mind for me — some people there have guns because they’re concerned about the bears that wander onto their property occasionally.

        Even my suburban neighborhood and my parents’ other suburban neighborhood each have foxes going after pets or backyard chickens. Coyotes aren’t too far away from us, either.

        Comments like this make our side of discussions on gun control look too out of touch to have anything to say.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Yeah, I’ve always lived in largely rural states, even when I lived in metro areas. There are coyotes, rattlesnakes, copperheads, bears, wild boar, wild dogs. It’s really common for NextDoor to post about coyotes getting into (suburban) backyards and carrying off pets. Yes, self-defense is also a huge thing, but the only things I’ve ever had to shoot at are deadly animals (snakes and coyote).

    7. SadFoot*

      Well, in rural areas in the US guns are absolutely still used as a tool. There are plenty of families in the country who hunt because otherwise they couldn’t afford to provide meat for their family, or have needed to occasionally protect their livestock. I’m not sure what region the LW is in, but this is an important perspective that a lot of “city folk” tend to forget. Guns are an ingrained part of regional culture because they literally helped people survive on their land for many generations.

      1. AnxietyRobot*

        Even looked at as a tool though, it’s important to remember how dangerous guns can be. After all, my husband worked at a shop where a group of guys would loudly brag and high five about not needing the safety mechanisms on their dangerous tools– few years later, and most of those guys can only high three.

    8. Anon for this*

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. I hear you as I grew up in a household where firearms were respected and safety was taken very seriously. We all went target shooting as a family and it was not strange to shoot a groundhog in the backyard (rural area) and my Dad went deer hunting at least once a year too. For me, firearms are not something I am startled by or frightened of by themselves, but I definitely understand why many, many people are and I am very much a gun control proponent, even if it means my Dad who is a responsible owner might have to turn in a few firearms. But it took time for me to shift my views on this as I grew up with a responsible owner of firearms so like most kids I assumed what I grew up with was the norm. And if it isn’t obvious, yes I and my family are all white.

      Anyway, in a small rural town, this is very normal to them. I think speaking up about the interviews especially was good as there likely is a person or two interviewing who is uncomfortable and they definitely aren’t going to say anything. The board meeting part I would drop completely as others have explained, he’s likely on duty pretty much all the time in a small town.

      And I agree with other posters, you aren’t going to convince them to share your fear and shouldn’t try, but you may be able to explain especially with the current climate that some people (like you) are intimidated by police and firearms and you should at least let interviewees know that a uniformed officer will be at the interview. Even people who are not fearful of firearms/police are likely going to feel intimidated with an unexpected authority figure present – maybe take that approach? They probably don’t see him like that either, but that one may be easier to explain.

    9. Metadata minion*

      I love dogs, but it really isn’t a huge stretch for me to understand why someone would be nervous around large animals that can be extremely dangerous if poorly trained, and I think nearly everyone has encountered That Guy who claims their dog is a total sweetie and perfectly well-behaved even though it clearly isn’t. I don’t expect you to suddenly become afraid of your own handgun. I expect you to understand that other people cannot magically know that you are a responsible gun owner and might be nervous around someone who carries around a tool designed to kill people in circumstances that aren’t shooting ranges or combat areas.

      1. SimplyTheBest*

        I’m not really interested in joining the gun debate, but just saying – you can read any post on this site about dog friendly workplaces and see that you are an outlier when it comes to dog lovers understanding people who don’t like dogs.

    10. anonforthis*

      I’m not sure why you are framing this as an irrational fear as unreasonable as someone being afraid of going outside. The OP didn’t say anything about being afraid, they said that they felt that it was inappropriate. (Personally I think it’s very understandable that they might feel that someone turning up to a job interview might find being interviewed by a uniformed police officer, with or without the gun, quite offputting if they weren’t expecting it. Perhaps people in this area are used to it but it’s not a crazy concern.) People can have ethical/moral objections, personal dislikes or concerns about inappropriateness without being personally scared.

    11. Yorick*

      They think of it as a tool for self-defense, like the pepper spray some people carry on their keychains and barely think about anymore.

    12. Joielle*

      WOW this is super condescending. I’m not afraid of cops (I’m a white lady, I’m safe) but the institution of policing is racist and I would never be part of an organization where a uniformed cop with a gun was conducting interviews. Because that organization is not welcoming to marginalized people, and I don’t want to be associated with an organization like that.

      I understand people’s perspective that in a small town, this might be common or normal, but that doesn’t make it ok. Good on the LW for trying to figure out if there’s a way to take a small step towards making their library board more inclusive. It seems like the answer is probably not, which sucks. But it’s certainly not a failure of the LW or of commenters to understand cops. If anything, it’s a failure of cops to understand the reasons that people don’t trust them.

      If small towns want to avoid brain drain, they need to work on being more welcoming to all kinds of people, not condescendingly explaining why attempts to be more inclusive are wrong.

    13. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      This isn’t just “not all guns/dogs/cars are dangerous,” it’s asking people to assume that none of them are. But some people do use guns to shoot other people, and some others do stupidly destructive things with guns. Some people neither leash their dogs nor train them properly, and will cheerfully say “he’s friendly” when asked to stop their dog from jumping on a stranger. Many people overestimate their driving ability–not just that a majority of people believe that they are above-average drivers, but the ones who are firmly convinced that having been awake for 48 hours won’t affect their driving skills, or that it doesn’t matter that the car has no snow tires and they have no experience with winter driving.

      I don’t believe that all dogs, all guns, or all drivers are dangerous–but I’m more likely to be wary of the ones who want me to pretend that no innocent person are ever shot by police officers, no children are ever been injured by a strange dog, and cars don’t crash for reasons including driver error and bad weather.

    14. Kerry*

      I think it’s a bit contradictory to ask that people understand your side of this and then flat out refuse to understand theirs. It’s not about convincing you to share in a fear, and it’s not about some minor discomfort. Guns are inherently violent. They are used to harm or kill, period. It’s really not so difficult to be considerate of others, and digging in to the attitude that your feelings are always, always more important than everyone around you is kind of a crappy way to live. There is a way to make space for each other.

    15. funkydonut*

      If someone is afraid of my dog, even if I don’t believe my dog is a threat, I’m not going to force them to interact with my dog. Not a fan of your condescending analogies, here. Going outside doesn’t kill people. Cops with guns, and “concealed carry” private citizens, do kill people.

      1. IEanon*

        Exactly! I’m not afraid of my dog and no one being afraid of my dog is going to change my mind about how safe she is. That being said, I do my best to give space to people who are uncomfortable with her. If someone says “I’m afraid of dogs,” I’m not going to insist that they stand next to her, or treat them like their irrational.

        No one who dislikes guns or the police is totally unaware that there are people in this country who think they’re nuts or that those feelings are invalid. We’re not stupid. Refusing to consider that others have a lower tolerance for weapons or for the officers who carry them is just another way to insist on the status quo.

        I do think this comment is helpful, as it illustrates that many who don’t share the OP’s opinion are not able or willing to consider her perspective, but would just assume her position is the irrational one. I agree that it’s not worth fighting this battle if she has no capital to spend.

    16. meyer lemon*

      I’ll give you a more apt analogy for free: the tobacco industry. In a post yesterday, many people mentioned that they were unable to support or have neutral feelings toward the tobacco industry, since it had killed friends or family members. And yet, there was a time when many would have considered it ridiculous to have a fear of cigarette smoking (this was generously helped along by the industry pouring money into misinforming the public about the dangers of cigarette smoking). Cigarettes were part of the fabric of ordinary life, after all, and it was common to see them glamorized in films and television shows.

  20. TimeTravlR*

    Regarding letter 2: why are employers so afraid of dealing with employees? If the employer handles it correctly, the employee can file all the grievances they want, but they won’t go anywhere. (Document, document, document, in case you were wondering.)
    This seems to be coming up more and more lately and I just don’t get it.

    1. twocents*

      Yeah, unless there’s a specific reason like “that’s the owner’s niece and doing anything about her behavior will just get me fired” but then they’d have a bigger problem than a lazy employee.

    2. WellRed*

      I don’t either. How often do employees, especially ones with lower paid positions, actually decide to pursue legal action? And find an actual legal issue to pursue (not seeing anything in the lettter but lazy). And find an atty willing to pursue the (non) issue for them?

      1. Chilipepper*

        In my city an employee did decide to sue back in the 80s, she won (all the way to the supreme court). That impacts every decision my city makes to this day. They only care if they can be sued by an employee so all the squeaky wheels really do get the grease!

        1. Big bureaucracy middle manager*

          It varies by organization. At my job, management tolerates poor performers and bad behavior to avoid any kind of union complaint, EEOC filing, lawsuit etc.

          High-level examples include two executives fighting for years, both get fired, both sue, and my employer pays settlements to both of them to avoid going to trial.

          At less visible levels, the most routine and obvious needs for terminations (people don’t come to work or do anything at all for example) there are months of PIPs and meetings and reviews all the way up the chain to fire somebody who is obviously should have been gone in a week.

          Since COVID began, leadership has been even less willing than before to fire anyone, which I have to admit kind of makes sense to me.

          I know my experience is not typical.

    3. Former call center*

      Yeah, I’m surprised this letter didn’t get more attention but then the 1st letter has a gun in it, so….

      I’ve worked in a call center for several years, and what we have here is terrible management. If this center has any tech at all for routing calls, then the managers should definitely be aware of everyone’s comings and goings, who answers how many calls, how long they are, etc. They should already know if people are leaving early, and addressing it proactively.

      That the management is not there to see what is going on themselves is another indicator. In badly managed call centers, managers and sometimes senior employees mostly assign themselves the most desirable hours, while the center has to be open for longer. So managers and seniors are working 8-4 and 9-5 but the call center is open until 6, 7, 8PM or later. If you are on the east coast taking calls from the west coast, you need to be open until 8PM just to be open until 5PM PST. So you have hours where junior employees are working with no supervision or support.

      To be frank, call center employees (and again, I was one) are low on the totem pole and considered replaceable. The work is demanding and repetitive and not usually very well paid. That managers seem fearful of such employees–well, that’s 3 strikes; they suck. Granted, my call center was large, but firing people for poor calls or bad attendance/tardiness was pretty routine. What do they think these fired people are going to sue for? “The managers fired me for leaving early” is not a case an attorney is going to want to take.

      In theory I agree with Alison about trying to just beat the other 2 employees to the punch in leaving early, but the danger is the managers have put the good and bad employees into separate compartments where expectations are different for them than for the slackers.

    4. cabubbles*

      I had a manager that was holding down a store that had just had their upper manager quit. The old manager had not been holding the employees to the standards of the company. My manager started enforcing standards i.e. clock-in policies, dress codes, quotas, etc. The employees decided to weaponize HR complaints. My manager went from zero complaints in 12yrs with the company to 5 in a two-month period. It didn’t change her management style, but it did make me realize that some weaker-willed managers could become nervous about reprimanding employees.

  21. Lynn Marie*

    It seems OP 1 is unfamiliar with small town culture and new to the community. However they feel about the officer participating while in uniform and armed, they may want to work on getting to know the community better especially working at the local library. In a year or two, either this and other concerns will have disappeared or changed or they will know small town life is not for them.

    1. Sara*


      I live in a small town and work in a uniformed job(not police officer, though). We have a small police force of around five people. There is often only one police officer on at a time. Our cops are active members of the community and for the one or two who work the 3-11 pm shift, they often appear at school board meetings, library board meetings and other community events in uniform, because they are working. They have permission to attend these events, like our paramedics and EMTs, while on shift. They are still available for calls. It sounds to me like this is a volunteer library board and the police officer is volunteering his time. If he’s leaving on calls, his superiors and the dispatch center know all about it. Can you perhaps find out his schedule and change the board meetings to when he is not working? I’ve never met a police officer(or any uniformed worker) who wore his or her uniform off duty.

      As far as the gun issue, that’s a required part of his uniform. And it would not at all surprise me if you have other library board members and patrons who carry; but since it’s concealed you don’t know about it.

      Small town culture can be very different than other places. I personally love it; but it’s not for everyone.

    2. Frances*

      OP1 says that they are new and an outsider. I’d say it is a good idea to do a lot of observation and listening first before commenting on how things are done. Over time, they can see what is and is not working for that specific community.
      Small town folks will give you the shirt off their backs if you need it but I’ve seen them be very slow to trust outsiders because of how outsiders have treated them. Both of my brothers live in small towns that get a lot of wealthy tourists coming in and buying vacation homes/condos. The “outsiders” then try to tell the folks who live there full-time how to live, how they can keep their houses, their yards, their pets. They don’t try to understand the community that they are in first. They kind of just bulldoze their opinions over everything. It can be really insulting. If this small town has experienced anything like this, it’s likely the respect that OP1 is looking for will take a long time to gain. Longer if OP is not truly listening to them and trying to understand their way of doing things.

      1. Dewey Decibal*

        Yes- my parent’s town is experiencing this now! The newcomers wanted to limit the amount of livestock you could keep because it was “unsightly.” Mind you. there were families who had kept cattle for generations in town. You really learn to learn the community, especially in a public services position like library director.

    3. PolarVortex*

      I was thinking the same thing. I grew up in a small, small farming community. Life there is drastically different than a city. Sometimes that can be off-putting, and some people never adjust to it. Even as a kid there were a lot of parts of small town living I hated, but there’s a lot I miss too.

      That isn’t to say to question the things that can be improved but there’s also just understand that this is a different culture. A culture where everyone is always pitching in to help with everything, which means people resources are doing double or triple duty, and they all know each other so they feel no reason to be alarmed by anything. Even the weird people it’s very much a “that’s crazy old Joe, he’ll stop ranting in 15 mins or so when his wife comes to collect him”.

      Keep in mind too: everyone in a small town either: is related to each other, went to school with each other, or goes ‘pick a stereotypical country activity’ with each other. So you need to be very careful about how you push back on things and who you talk about, lest you become the outsider they don’t want to deal with because people will get offended on their friends/family behalves. Guaranteed the cop already knows what you’ve been saying as a board member likely told him over beers at the local bar or beers in their backyard/garage.

      To not end this on a negative note: learn to work that small town gossip chain/protection line/volunteer horde. A teen being an idiot in your library will mean if you mention it, every “Auntie” in town is going to handle that kid. They’ll also be the first to contact to help with library fundraisers as they’ll run the entire darn thing for you and guilt people into showing up and donating. If you lean in hard to the community, they’ll be there to support you every step of the way. You’re going to get food when you’re sick or hitting a celebratory milestone, and people will haul your car out of the ditch if you end up in one in winter, and they’ll be the biggest resource you can ever hope to have at your back.

    4. mcfizzle*

      It’s not “inherent”. It just happens to be the situation here. Also, it’s damn hard to get people to volunteer for these kinds of activities.

    5. Sagiquarius*

      In our tiny hamlet, population 700, the only 2 LEOs we have are black. The only people uncomfortable around them are the drug dealers.

  22. Sooda Nym*

    For LW1 – I work with a lot of groups that need a quorum to take action. I recently learned that the official rules governing these groups say that once the group meets a quorum, you can act on any item on the established agenda prior to adjournment, even if someone leaves the meeting. Essentially, once a quorum is established, it’s considered in effect until the meeting adjourns. So, it may be worth digging into the rulebook to check if you’d be able to conduct business after the officer leaves the meeting.
    That said, many groups are uncomfortable conducting business without the quorum actually present, as people may question whether there actually was adequate support for actions taken. But, it would be worth knowing the rules and discussing with your board.

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      While you’re right that this can be the case it is highly dependent on your governing laws/regulations/bylaws. In some cases, agenda items that are budgetary in nature can not be performed if the group drops below a quorum, and in others (ie, small town meeting situations), no binding resolutions can be passed if the quorum drops.

      But it definitely is worth looking into this, because it may also be the case that you can change your own rules on what a quorum is, for future meetings. I did work in a facility where the bylaws were changed by vote to identify a quorum as 3 members present from the 5 person board, instead of the previously specified 4.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Or even that you arrange the agenda so the quorum-requiring items are always discussed early.

        As little as I like firearms, I think the uniform and the suddenly dashing out are likely to be greater issues to the community, and also areas where LW would eventually have more scope to suggest solutions (eg could he wear a casual jacket over uniform shirt/tie/pants during interviews and keep his jacket in the car; could budget meetings be scheduled for when he’s not on call).

  23. le teacher*

    OP3 – I wonder if the messaging of “don’t have ANYTHING BAD ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA BECAUSE YOU WON’T GET A JOB” was/is perhaps overblown over the last decade? I am 29 so was job searching with this advice. I’m a teacher, so I always keep all of my social media private and locked down, but I didn’t really “clean up” any of my accounts when job searching right after college. Granted, I didn’t really have bad photos up, but I still did not make an effort to polish my social media. I’ve worked at two private schools, and AFAIK no one really checks social media. Frankly, I don’t think the hiring team at my current school cares/has the time to go looking for social media. Maybe a quick google search and if nothing egregious pops up they move on?

    Idk, I just definitely remember a lot of panicking over us millennials and our social media, but I feel like it has never been a problem for me or any of my friends getting hired.

    I have seen some coworkers get a talking to over social media posts while they were employed at our school, but in those cases their social media was private and a coworker screenshot the posts and sent them to the administration. Which I think is a different scenario.

    I would say just keep your accounts private. Your average employer has no way of checking locked/private accounts.

    1. Cat Tree*

      I think the attitude has relaxed a bit, now that people who heavily use social media are on the hiring side. The internet in general and social media in particular are no longer these weird mysterious things that only kids use.

      I’ve been on hiring committees and never bothered to look up anyone on social media, although I know some hirers definitely do look. So I think it’s still good advice to keep it pg13, but in most industries no one will be scandalized by a glass of wine.

      1. lilsheba*

        Here is my take on social media, which never has anything like drinking or swimming attire on it but does have an obvious case of my political views: It’s MY account, of MY personal life, and has nothing to do with my work, and I will post what I like and I will not worry how it “looks” to anyone. And it’s private and no I don’t give out passwords.

      2. Retail Not Retail*

        One June, I decided to just post Pride stuff every day. One was the cartoon that says “be gay do crimes” – that was the one that finally got my mom to say “this may not look good, you should watch what you post etc etc. not that there’s anything wrong with pride stuff of course!”

        I chose the nine pictures on facebook that come out so one is pride related so anyone doing a casual “does she have facebook” search will see it and being seen as LBT or an ally is a risk I’m willing to take because I value the message it conveys. (The rest are my pets)

      3. Firecat*

        I think some of the attitude has relaxed – beer is fine. A party isn’t an issue (in some jobs).

        Other parts have gotten harsher as companies are now using social media and aware of how an individual with their employer listed can splashback on them.

        I’ve even had coworkers be punished for commenting on a friend’s complaint about their company. It didn’t matter that the complaint wasn’t on an official forum and that they were friends, responding to their friends status update was seen as speaking on behalf of the company.

        1. Jack Russell Terrier*

          It was for doctors … .

          “Medical professionals around the world are posting bikini selfies to protest a study that suggests the pics are “unprofessional.”

          “The study, which appeared in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, suggested that patients may choose their hospital, doctor or medical facility based, in part, on how professional a doctor’s publicly available social media content appears.

          “The researchers created fake social media profiles in order to study each medical professional’s personal photos and determined that 61 of the 235 medical residents they studied had “unprofessional or potentially unprofessional content,” according to ”
          Amazing isn’t it – and creepy that they made fake accounts. I immediately thought of this situation when reading the question.

          The quote is from a Huffpost article with the heading
          Doctors Post Bikini Photos To Protest Study That Calls Them Unprofessional

        2. lilsheba*

          There was a rule of that sort at my old job, you couldn’t talk bad about them on social media. Well guess what I don’t work there anymore, and I have the freedom to call them out on their crap now, and have. I love it.

    2. Firecat*

      I actually think it’s probably not taken seriously enough and folks focus on the wrong topics to worry about too. Bikinis and beer are not the topics that tank careers with any frequency.

      I personally use social media less then ever nowadays and I was a freshman when Facebook started becoming popular and was only for college students.

      I’ve seen MORE punishment for, frankly benign, posts today then I did 10 years ago.

      Had a bad day and ranted about work/your boss? Fired for “representing” your company to the public.

      Have meme about Jesus superstar as your profile picture? Not hired.

      On the other hand I’ve worked at places that preferred to hire people with open, not locked down, profiles and someone with a photo holding a beer was preferred over a “fake” and polished social media presence.

      And that doesn’t even scratch the folks that mine decades of social media posts for problematic photos or statements to tear down public figures. Apologizing is rarely enough.

      The harsh reality is that people’s personal social media is becoming a more public and important facet of their reputation across all facets of their life.

    3. Natalie*

      Maybe it says something about my field, but I’ve always wondered this with not-Facebook especially. Unless you’re fairly well known, or using Twitter or Instagram in some professional capacity, who’s using their real name anyway? If you’re concerned about an employer checking up on you, don’t share your usernames.

    4. Kiki*

      I feel like it was a bit overblown and misdirected! When I was in college, the big concern that was conveyed to me was *pictures*– pictures of people at parties, people drinking, wearing “scandalous” attire, etc. I don’t know of any cases where that has tremendously affected anyone’s professional (non-celebrity/public figure) career. What *does* affect people’s careers are posts that are bigoted, cruel, and/or offensive.

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        It was an for doctors within the past couple of years … .

        “Medical professionals around the world are posting bikini selfies to protest a study that suggests the pics are “unprofessional.”

        “The study, which appeared in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, suggested that patients may choose their hospital, doctor or medical facility based, in part, on how professional a doctor’s publicly available social media content appears.

        “The researchers created fake social media profiles in order to study each medical professional’s personal photos and determined that 61 of the 235 medical residents they studied had “unprofessional or potentially unprofessional content,” according to ”
        Amazing isn’t it – and creepy that they made fake accounts. I immediately thought of this situation when reading the question.

        The quote is from a Huffpost article with the heading
        Doctors Post Bikini Photos To Protest Study That Calls Them Unprofessional

    5. LizardOfOdds*

      I totally agree that social media risks were overblown in the last decade or so and it’s mostly calmed down… but I would also say that people should be careful not to assume that people doing hiring no longer look at social media in an off-the-record way. Most people are probably not aware of the social media peeks that result in applicants getting put into the “reject” pile, because it’s not like recruiters say, “hey by the way, we’re rejecting you because your Facepage is all about growing magic mushrooms in your bedroom and that is highly illegal, which makes us question your overall judgement.” (That’s a real example, btw – but the rejection just said “we’re pursuing other candidates” in a very generic way.)

    6. Librarian1*

      I think this was a much bigger deal when I was 22/23 (so around ’06-’08) because that was around the time Facebook opened up to anyone and around the time Twitter was started so those of us who had been using Facebook as college students had tons of college appropriate stuff on it and people who weren’t in college when it was founded were new to it so norms hadn’t been established and older people basically had no experience with it and didn’t really understand how it worked or what it was. I think that’s died down a bit. Idk. I don’t really worry about it. I also have my profile locked down.

  24. Not So Super-visor*

    LW #2: I understand where you’re coming from. As a call center manager, I understand what you’re saying about coverage and the frustration of people leaving early. When there are fewer people, there are more calls and more people that are upset about being on hold. I also understand why your manager may have a different schedule — I would literally have to work 14 hours a day if I was at the center for all of our operating hours. I’ve done it on occasion, but its not sustainable. I partially agree with your manager — we can’t tell people that they can never leave early. People have lives outside of work — doctor appointments, kid’s activities, etc. I typically am pretty lax about this, but I do ask that people give me a heads up when they need to leave early. Most of my employees know this isn’t a big deal, so they’ll just shoot me an email. If there’s a legitimate problem, however, your manager should have other tools to observe this. I would assume that you have some sort software where they can see when someone is logged into the phones and when they’re not. If they’re seeing a pattern, your manager should adjust their schedule temporarily to observe and handle if it’s a serious problem. On a side note: after complaints by employees about an employee’s behavior, I once changed my schedule and found out that an employee would hide in a staircase for the last 10 minutes of her shift before clocking out at her normal time.

    Unfortunately, there’s not much that you can do to force your manager to act, and it is with their discretion to decide if the behavior is actually a problem. As a helpful suggestion: I would not recommend documenting your coworker’s behavior as a way of forcing your manager to act as this tends to cause a lot of drama in these types of situations.

  25. Kate 2*

    OP I sympathize with you, and not in a mean way but I can tell you definitely didn’t grow up in a small town. The fact that you (young new) are director of an entire library, a highly desired position, and have only 2 employees, tells me this is a TINY town. If this were a branch in a populous county, even there they have many more than 2 employees.

    Anyway, you have to understand that small towns mean people have to wear a lot of hats and stretch and overwork themselves to keep the town going. My local library as a kid was all volunteer run, the nest library was a half hour drive each way. My grandfather was a farmer who also had a second job for the town and was a prominent local politician. I can’t IMAGINE anyone getting upset when, not if, people come to town meeting in overalls with dung on their boots. Heck our firefighters are almost all volunteers!

    People love their town and are willing to do 2 or 3 or more jobs to keep it going. I doubt that cop wouldn’t rather be kicking back after a long day than going to boring board meetings. If you want to succeed where you are, you have to understand the problems rural towns face, like “brain drain”, and the attitudes and beliefs they have, like everybody pitching in. I hope this explanation helps OP!

    1. FridayFriyay*

      I grew up in a town of fewer than 1,500 people and think this response and others like it are a bit condescending. There’s nothing inherent in living in a small town that makes you immune from rational fear of authority figures who carry lethal weapons. Even in very homogeneous areas it is common in small towns for law enforcement to routinely harass people they perceive as “other.” Carrying a firearm is not analogous to showing up to a meeting with manure on your boots.

      1. Kate 2*

        It is when you are a cop! Both are part of you required work materials. As a LOT of other posters have said many cops are required to carry their firearms. And as the op said he cones to meetings on duty and on call. THANKS for choosing my post to pick on, rather than responding to all and starting a thread of your own!

      2. Observer*

        They are responding to someone who is both condescending and apparently ignorant of the situation they are operating in.

        They are an outsider without a lot of experience in the filed they are working in, but nevertheless they are pushing on an issue that they apparently have not taken the time to research and don’t seem to have thought of solutions to.

        It’s not surprising that a lot of the responses read as condescending. Maybe the OP could take the discomfort that brings them and think about how they are coming across to their Board. And they should ALSO think about how they are coming across to their community. Because public libraries are public institutions, and if people feel like this “newcomer” is looking down at them or just doesn’t understand them but is pushing change anyway, it’s going to be a disaster.

      3. Xanna*

        Same situation, same sentiment.
        Just because you personally know and have personal connections with the law enforcement in your town, doesn’t negate the broader conversation and concerns around guns, or the militarization of the American police in general.

  26. Finland*

    The first two letters are picture-perfect examples of having to learn when to expend political capital on the job.

    The first letter appears to indicate that the new director does not yet have political capital to make the complaints being made and, thus, is not being taken seriously. If this is how the Board has been operating, it’s highly unlikely for them to completely revamp how they organize just because a new junior director has complaints about how their board membership is structured. It would be completely different if they were soliciting employees’ input, but it doesn’t sound like they are.

    I do think the complaint about the uniformed, armed, officer is valid. Depending on who might be interviewing, the presence of a police officer in full uniform could be a terrifying sight, especially for marginalized people. If I, as a marginalized person, arrive to an interview site and see an armed police officer, it will give me pause and might affect the quality of my interview (or even my willingness to stay for the interview), which highlights a potential weakness in recruitment at this stage. I think that’s worth bringing up to the Board, not nebulous complaints about quorum. Nevertheless, I’d wait a little while before bringing this up, both to give time to observe how the interview process goes and to avoid the appearance of being the employee that cries wolf.

    The second letter shows the writer being annoyed by the fact that others appear to have a flexible schedule, as confirmed by management. Like Alison has said, unless they are concerning the actual job, complaints about this will go absolutely nowhere and will brand the writer as a complainer. I’ve made these types of complaints in the distant past when I had coworkers arriving three hours late to the job, hung over, and I still got nowhere. It is very difficult to convince people to care about something unless they see and understand how it affects the job but that is no guarantee. The lesson about picking one’s battles is extremely relevant here.

  27. CatPerson*

    I really doubt that the police officer would be allowed to lock the gun in his trunk or something like that. If the meetings/interviews are scheduled when he is on duty and in uniform, why would you be concerned about him carrying the gun? He’s a police officer.

    1. anon today*

      It is actually unsafe to lock guns in a vehicle, especially if they are not driving a work vehicle, that has not been significantly modified (basically a gun safe welded into the frame).

      1. CatPerson*

        I’m sure he’d be fired if he left his weapon in his car whether it’s a police car or personal car.

    2. CatPerson*

      In Board meetings and interviews? When did that happen? If you’re saying that police officers should not be on library Boards and should not be allowed to interview candidates, that’s a different issue. If you’re saying that uniformed officers should not be allowed to carry firearms, that’s also a different issue. The question is whether a library Board member who attends meetings while in uniform on duty should be allowed to carry the firearm. The answer is that yes, he is required to carry the firearm, and there’s no safe place for him to put it, anyway.

    3. Criminologist*

      People in marginalized communities who are wary of police are right to be. But police-community relations are different in small, rural areas. Even in cities, the vast majority of officers never kill or even shoot anybody. And I would bet money that there haven’t been police related deaths in the small town OP works in, maybe ever and certainly not recently.

      It’s a good idea to give interviewees a heads up about a uniformed police officer being present at their interview. And it’s good that OP spoke up once, in case other people had shared their uneasiness and agreed to make some change. But now OP needs to understand that other people have different views about police and about guns than they do, and let it go. If OP is super uncomfortable, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to find another job where they don’t have to be around an armed police officer, but that sounds like the only thing to do about it now.

  28. AndersonDarling*

    #4 Have the degree on the resume. I’m in a technical field and have 20 years experience along with lots of certs. When I was job searching, I didn’t get any attention until I added my masters degree to my applications and Linkedin. I even had a future completion date for my degree that was a year away, but the calls started rolling in.
    There’s an understanding with a lot of recruiters that higher level roles can only go to people with higher level degrees. In the real world, my masters degree in a technical field wasn’t very different than a collection of professional certs, so it wasn’t comparable to say, an MBA. But recruiters that aren’t familiar with tech roles will spot that degree and put a lot of weight on it because they understand traditional college awards.
    I know my experience is much more valuable that my degree, but my resume is used to communicate information to the person reading it. So I build my resume the way the reader would like to see it.

    1. Smithy*

      Degrees really are that odd double edged sword – when you graduate and its all you have, it doesn’t count as “experience”. But to not have one is also a knock.

      I have two Masters degrees that compliment one another but in no way present themselves as a super-combo like an MD/JD. They are from good universities – but universities outside the US that may or may not be recognized inside the US. However, when I’ve talked to recruiters before about including only one Masters degree or dropping my Bachelors so that I’m not listing 3 degrees, I’ve always been told to keep all three. I even have an Associates Arts degree from a very small school that I sometimes keep – not because anyone cares about an AA, but it is attached to very strong alumni network that I know has benefitted me on occasion.

      I’m in a profession where we can give two pages, so at least I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing professional achievements. But I do think that these degrees pose still pose as recruiter/HR shorthand for basic achievement and intelligence.

    2. OP 4*

      It’s a little more complicated because in his particular field, exams and credentials are far more important than a degree. Think of the credentials like a graduate degree. He’s including the credentials (like a graduate degree) but not the undergraduate degree. Recruiters use the publish list of all people who have obtained the top credentials and cold call them regularly. But I agree, I think he needs to include the undergraduate degree!

      1. Smithy*

        Being mindful of the necessity to include the BA, but the increased demand on other credentials – I do wonder if there’s a way to include that information in a header/footer that might also feature contact information? Something like “John Doe/867-5349/ BA from John Doe U”

        I’m in a field with no credentials, high demands on experience, but also a lot of lingering snobbery around education. It’s made putting education as the very last section of my resume on page 2 my approach to playing service to both parts.

        1. Anon Today*

          The degree probably will not be seen if it is placed with the contact info. That just isn’t where people are looking for it. When I’m scanning a resume, I’m avoiding paying attention to name/contact info so it doesn’t subconsciously influence me.

      2. KAT*

        This sounds very much like the field I’m currently studying to take an exam in. I agree that the exams and work experience are much more important but companies seem oddly rigid in requiring a degree, even if it is in an unrelated major. So I would just include it just to make life easier.

      3. Fake Susan*

        If he’s in the same field I am, there’s just not that many of us, so if employers know where he went to school they’ll probably realize they’re friends with some of his former classmates. Everyone applying for the job has the credentials so that could be a useful way to help him stick out.

  29. Esmeralda*

    OP #5. It would be a kindness to tell pushy dude, once, how his pushiness is coming across, and to let him know that is unprofessional and ineffective.

    If you’re going to send Alison’s suggested response (“…best of luck…”), take another minute or two to give him advice.

    He’s in college or recently graduated. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He truly may not understand the difference between following up and being pushy.

  30. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

    #1 I’m guessing you can’t quit your job because it sounds like that is your only option to not have the firearms in your board meetings. For me I try to not focus on the weapon I try not to look waist down at anyone at church and during the meeting, if possible see if you all can sit around a table. The table has helped a lot for me, it covers up most weapons unless they are wearing the vest.
    Our city has become overrun with open carry firearms, in September we were in whole foods and a man with an AR on his arm shot his foot accidentally in the produce section. We no longer play in our front yard because people that walk the neighborhood open carry AR’s and handguns, my husband joked that he was getting us Kevlar so the kids could get out of our backyard at some point. I am not afraid of guns in general, we have them in our home. I am however terrified of not knowing who has there Gun cocked and ready to fire and carrying with them.

    1. anon today*

      As a firearms owner I would assume you understand that many handguns do not have a safety and can be fired at will if they are loaded. So the assumption should be all guns you see are ready to fire. I work in support for a law enforcement agency. I was not raised around firearms. So when I went to work for my agency the whole people carrying weapons sitting next to me was a little weird. I was shocked to later find out their glocks had no safeties on them. I have been on the range a few times now with firearms instructors and feel more comfortable. As I have told many I am glad to have shot, but I don’t want to carry, own etc. and I am very supportive of gun control etc. First thing I was taught by firearms instructors was assume any weapon is loaded and only point a weapon in the direction you are going to shoot. I am sorry you have gone through the open carry issues. I would be very scared especially of the ARs. I know the people I sit next to have been trained. Everyone else not so much.

      1. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

        I agree any firearm you see you should think of as ready to fire, I just try to hope people carrying to the grocery or church have either the safety of not having their gun cocked, A trigger covered holster, or having a true safety on. My knowledge of guns is limited to shot guns for hunting as a child and as an adult a concealed carry class, and a defensive shooting for women class so my knowledge is limited with handguns and non existent for AR’s.

  31. Analyst Editor*

    I’ll try to rephrase my comment to LW1, which got deleted but hopefully this restatement comports with the rules.
    You say you haven’t been able to gain a lot of respect in your new position.
    I wonder if you might be having difficulty gaining respect there because you might be approaching your new board a bit adversarial, and it comes off in how you talk to people? You’re complaining about a police officer in a board meeting; then that presumably he doesn’t choose to be on call during the meetings for fun. I can’t know for certain (and it might just be the part of the letter that AAM chooses to emphasize), but it seems like the weapon aspect of it is a sticking point for you.
    If it’s not an issue for everyone around you, and you keep bringing it up; if, further – which you don’t necessarily do, but it’s worthwhile checking that you don’t – you show your dissatisfaction with not being listened to or some kind of visible discomfort with that board member with his weapons and uniform, then you will have a harder time getting along with them more generally.

    1. Lacey*

      The OP could be being adversarial, but in a small town they don’t have to be to not have a lot of respect.
      I’ve worked in a couple of small towns I didn’t grow up in (or anywhere near) and even after a decade I was still an outsider.

    2. Smalltowngrl*

      I know ppl who have lived in the small town I grew up in for 20+ years and are still “not from here”. The kid that moved to town in third grade was still the “new kid” when we graduated high school.

      Also, for the record promoting inclusivity and expressing concern abt in armed cop interviewing people should not be considered adversarial.

  32. Annony*

    #3: There was recently huge backlash against a study that said female doctors posting pictures of themselves in bikinis on social media was unprofessional. Look up #MedBikini

  33. ElleKay*

    Hi! Former small-town library board member & president here!

    While I didnt have a police officer on my board we would have been happy to have them and neither uniform nor fire arm (in that context) would raise an eyebrow. I can see you concern about interviews but… dont you want to know if a candidate is going to be unable to intereact/react poorly to one of your board members? (How were your interactions with him when you interviewed?)

    As for quorum that *does* legitimately sick. Is someone tracking pre-meeting RSVPs? Can you make sure you have quorum +1 for you meetings? (How struck are quorum requirements? My rules were that quorum was 7+ out of a 12-15 member board. If you can hit quorum without him maybe you need to look at the requirements or at the board members who aren’t showing up rather than this guy)

    1. IEanon*

      I don’t really think “we should exclude candidates who are uncomfortable around cops” is really a reasonable stance. In theory, sure, you should be able to work with the board member in uniform, as that’s likely to be part of your job.

      In reality, screening for comfort levels around the armed officer is going to decrease the chances of any minorities or other members of marginalized communities who have good reason to feel apprehensive. I agree that it shouldn’t be an issue in board meetings; in interviews, you have to think about unintended consequences like reducing the likelihood of creating a diverse staff.

      1. Deanna Troi*

        I agree with IEanon. Because a higher percentage of people who are going to “interact/react poorly” to cops in uniform are POC, LGBTQIA, or other minorities, ElleKay is essentially saying that those people shouldn’t be working there. They often are apprehensive due to real life experiences of their own or those close to them. This attitude creates and reinforces racist workplaces by creating environments that feel welcoming only to those who feel comfortable with the police, in other words – mostly white people.

    2. a sound engineer*

      Umm.. instead of using the police officer to filter out “candidates who might be wary or intimidated around police officers” (which will probably skew to certain demographics, and has nothing to do with actual qualifications for the job), why wouldn’t you just be giving candidates a heads up before the interview so they know to expect it?

  34. Roquefort*

    #1, I totally understand your discomfort, but I agree that you don’t have the social capital to push back on this. Somebody needs to be on the board, and if the only person available who wants to do it is a cop who is sometimes on-call during meetings, well, that’s who you get. You might also consider that cops in small towns have a little more accountability than they do in suburbs or cities simply because everyone knows each other in a small town. It’s much harder to get sympathy for shooting someone when everyone in town knows and likes the victim.

    1. Roquefort*

      On second thought, disregard those last two sentences–I really don’t have enough experience to make that assertion. The part about lacking the social capital to change this stands, though.

  35. Chc34*

    I’m going to gently suggest that white people who don’t understand why minorities, especially Black people, would be incredibly uncomfortable around cops – yes, even in small towns – take a step back today.

    1. Pyjamas*

      Depends on what your goal is. If LW is going to get useful advice, & learn how to build the capital to make these changes, then they need to hear from small town residents and the white urban dwellers in this comment space need to shut up. You seem to be making an assumption about the population of OPs town. Where do you think all the ppl who pack the meat you buy at your grocery store live?

      1. Pyjamas*

        On the contrary, many commenters are assuming the residents of small towns are all white. But by all means, let’s restrict comments re: LW1’s letter to BIPOC rural residents.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Agreed. The hardest part of becoming a mature adult was realizing that sometimes I need to tell myself, “You know what? I’m actually not the right person to weigh in here”. Those are the times when I can learn things by reading other people’s experiences.

      1. Chc34*

        Lol. No one is being silenced, I didn’t even say “don’t comment,” I said “take a step back.” A lot of the commenters here can’t seem to fathom why anyone would be uncomfortable around cops, and I’m merely suggesting that instead of continuing to argue that, you stop and listen to those who have very valid reasons to be uncomfortable.

      2. Not Me*

        Are you new here? Alison routinely asks people who are not part of the minority being discussed to take a listening role instead of speaking. What’s gross is people who have not walked through life as an oppressed minority commenting on how it feels to do so.

    3. Yorick*

      It sounds like OP has raised the issue and the people she spoke to didn’t agree that the presence of an armed officer was a problem. Commenters are trying to explain why that might be the case. It’s not to discount the feelings of people who feel uncomfortable around cops, but as a new resident of the area, OP might be the only one who is uncomfortable in this situation.

      1. Natalie*

        Even assuming there are others who might be uncomfortable, I think the OP might want to reflect on whether they want to be able to make some actual changes, or not. You’re usually more effective approaching people where they are at, not rolling in with memed history lessons about the roots of policing as an institution. That approach ends with the board and officer more invested in defending themselves, and not listening or considering anything else.

        Unfortunately the conversation here has long on rhetoric and really short on actual suggestions, but there are a few good ones. I’ll add, as you’re getting to know the town, OP, try and connect with communities that might not be part of the local power elite. Perhaps they would feel more comfortable with, say, the officer not being in uniform during interviews. But you actually can’t assume that, you need to hear from the communities you serve.

    4. Observer*

      I think you are missing the point. The issue is not why someone might be uncomfortable around armed cops.

      There are a lot of other pieces. The most important one for the OP is that if they want to succeed they are going to need to understand small town dynamics in general, and THIS town’s dynamics in particular, much better before they start pushing back too hard. And also understanding the constraints cops operate under. That starts with understanding that trying to get rid of the cop on the board is probably a very, very bad strategy at this point. And understanding why they are not likely to succeed.

      1. ele4phant*

        Yep, I completely understand how there are many people out there that rightfully feel uncomfortable around police officers. I completely agree that modern policing was born out of racist and violent intentions, and that has been systematically been perpetuated putting, black, brown, LBTQA, and neurodivergent people’s lives on the line, every day.

        I ALSO understand that small towns often have their own politics and values to navigate, and if you want to succeed in these places and you want to go about bringing change – even minimal change – you need to understand the environment you are operating in.

        LW needs to learn her community, learn their values, build trust and relationships, AND THEN she can go about instigating change. Learning doesn’t necessarily mean “adopting” or even “accepting”, it just means, understand the landscape before you start trying to throw your weight around. Or if she doesn’t want to take the time and effort to learn how things currently work in her community, she can give up and move back to a community that is already more aligned with her worldview.

        There is not a viable strategy where she as a newcomer that hasn’t taken the time yet to learn her community makes a strong stand and succeeds.

  36. B Wayne*

    As to LW#1 and the uniformed law enforcement officer attending meetings, I looked at laws or regulations in my state pertaining to this. The state laws and a couple of cities on armed law enforcement. Generally, if wearing the uniform you are REQUIRED to be armed with an approved weapon. If out of uniform and off duty you are ALLOWED to carry as long as the approved by the law enforcement agency weapon is not visible. The universal exception is when consuming alcohol.

    Now, I like cops about as much as the next person and my head pops when I read about cop shoots person with severe X (autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, poor, brown, Black, four legs, a tail and barks, etc.) but…cops are in contact with less than savory people who might hold grudges. The cop should be able to protect his/herself at all times. They clean up society’s mess and there is a concession we as a people have to make and that is armed law enforcement. Police can come up on things not right while off duty. We have all read a story about “off duty cop walks into convenience story during armed robbery and stops it” or much worse and NO ONE is going to write in and say that civilian dressed cop should not have been armed.

    I know everyone in the last few years especially has read a news story about armed, uniformed officers (and plainclothes also) being denied service at regional or national restaurants and fast food with a no firearms policy. And once that makes the national news those companies backtrack, clarify peace officers were never included in the policy, fire people on duty and send out training bulletins that all sworn law enforcement offices be given service while armed. If it’s good enough for Taco Bell…

    So, the librarian may be upset at the gun she sees (and the hidden backup she doesn’t!) and the quorum and meeting being ruined but she is going against the tide on this. I can understand her thinking an interviewee would be upset at being questioned by an armed, uniformed police officer but I do not think I saw any actual indication from her two employees they were scared they’d be shot if they gave a weak answer. This is the librarians projection.

    1. Lobsterp0t*

      Black people and, in fact, any other people disproportionately and deliberately targeted by state backed violence masked as law enforcement are not the same as dogs. This is maybe supposed to be flippant but it sounds disingenuous.

      The decision not to serve police officers is usually a political one – not a worker accidentally misapplying a policy. Just because companies care more about their bottom line doesn’t invalidate a protest action.

  37. Leave*

    Seconding Chc34’s comment. A lot of the comments regarding the police officer seem to come from a very privileged perspective and don’t seem to understand why having the officer in uniform with a gun is going to self-select for certain types of applicants/certain types of board members. I’d resign – it sounds like this is a hopeless situation and not worth fighting against.

    1. Cj*

      Depending on where this town is located, they might not have any minorities in the area to apply. Or that would be interested in living in that town.

        1. Dee*

          Cause in addition to what Anonyy said below, and while I don’t want to de-center Black people in discussions like this, neurodivergent people also have good reason to fear extrajudicial killings.

      1. Lacey*

        Oooh, I don’t know where that would be.

        You’ll certainly have tiny towns with only a couple of minority families, but none? I worked for years in an area where towns probably wouldn’t have many black people, but they all had pretty decent sized Hispanic communities and tiny Arabic and Japanese communities.

    2. Temperance*

      I’m from a very small town, and I would agree that plenty of these comments are coming from very privileged perspectives, but probably not in the same way that you do. The kind of advice that you, and many others, are giving is absolutely useless if LW wants to remain in her small town. She needs to understand the culture, as do many commenters here.

        1. Temperance*

          No, more like, LW is an outsider, and she should be building ties and growing trust with her neighbors before mandating that things change that no one else has a problem with.

          It’s also frankly unclear that this is a problem for the community. I volunteer with a domestic violence org in a heavily-immigrant community. The police are a regular fixture, and they make it super clear that they’re to assist community members, not involved with ICE and won’t give victim info to immigration authorities. Without that presence, these immigrant women and their kids would remain unsafe with their abusers AND lack access to immigration relief (U-visas, which these cops always cooperate with us to get).

        2. Annie Moose*

          Well, kind of, if I’m being honest. If you’re brand spanking new to a small town, you pretty much have to roll with it until you’ve built up capital to make (small, carefully-approached) changes–or leave. There simply is not an outcome where LW successfully transforms the entire culture of the small town overnight, by herself.

          1. Annie Moose*

            I mean to add… I’m not saying you have to necessarily be okay with everything that happens and just blithely accept everything as great. You can and absolutely should still recognize and acknowledge problems. But LW legitimately cannot go change the status quo tomorrow. If she wants to change things, then she needs to move to a long game–build up respect and capital in the community first, suggest and implement small changes, and effect change gradually.

          2. Temperance*

            Seriously. If she does that, she both won’t change anything AND will likely set herself even further apart from her community, as an outsider.

          3. Nia*

            You can’t build capital in a small town you weren’t born in. OP will always be an outsider. The best thing she can do is leave.

        3. Kate 2*

          I agree with the other posters. This is not the movie Footloose. If you’re in a small town where every Average Joe has 2 guns, you aren’t going to be able to force them to dump the cop board member.

  38. Daisy-dog*

    #3 – HR here. I do not check social media. I have known 1 manager who did and she considered private accounts to be an indicator of responsibility. Also, there was a guy several years ago with the same name as my husband who would share about getting high all the time on Twitter. My husband was still able to get jobs as a teacher.

    I once applied for a position and I read all the information on the company with Glassdoor. This particular company would require applicants to log into their accounts (even if private) and let the management team review their posts. I thankfully was not selected for an interview. I wouldn’t want to work there.

    Good luck! I know I have spent so much time obsessing over what could be the mysterious reason that I am not selected for a job. It’s just unlikely that it would be something you posted online. It’s more likely they just got too many applicants.

  39. logicbutton*

    For #3: On Twitter: when you’re locked, they can see your username, pic, bio, and follower/following counts, but not your follower/following lists, likes, RTs, or tweets. If they’re following you when you lock down (seems not super likely, but I guess it’s possible), they can still see everything after you lock even if you’re not following them back, but you can make them stop following you by blocking and then unblocking them. Or I guess you could even leave them blocked, and then they won’t find you even if they search for you unless they look for your exact username. So if you’re already locked and they’re not following you, you do not have to delete anything. If your bio or profile pic are inappropriate somehow, change them while you’re searching, but otherwise don’t worry about it.

  40. Observer*

    #1- you ask if there is anything you should do about this. My question to you is WHY do you think you need to do anything about it? What is the actual problem you are trying to resolve?

    I have not read all of the comments yet, so I may be repeating, but a couple of things to think about.

    Before you “point out” a supposed problem, make sure that it’s ACTUALLY a problem. For instance you are acting as though the Board brushed off an actual problem in when you “pointed out” that “It might be inappropriate” for the police officer being on call while carrying out Board duties. The fact is, though, that you actually did NOT point out an existing problem. Did you bother to find out what the rules ACTUALLY are in your jurisdiction? I would also ask you WHY it is “probably appropriate” for him to do board duties while on call? Would you say the same thing about any other trade, profession or job where people may be on call even when they are not on duty? Are you even aware that in many jurisdictions cops are effectively always on call?

    You sound like you are just assuming that “cop” MUST = “problem”, as though that’s something that “everyone” would agree with. It reads as very string anti-police bias. Now, I could very easily be wrong here, but the key issue is not what’s in your mind but how you are coming off. And if you sound anti-cop in a place that doesn’t have that bias, or where THIS PARTICULAR cop is well respected, you are going to have a problem.

    It also looks like you are trying to push this guy off the board because he’s a cop. And even in a place that is not highly pro-cop that might not go over so well, especially if the guy is respected.

    As others have noted, it’s a good idea for you to check out the local rules around police – when they should / should not be carrying guns or wearing their uniform and when they are on call. Also what are the local rules around involvement in local organizations and other off duty conduct.

    As for the quorum issue, you need to find a different solution or you are going to have problems getting and maintaining a Board. Either you need a larger Board or your quorum requirements are too high or too many people are not showing up to meetings.

    1. Yorick*

      OP and many of the commenters are taking it for a fact that cops are scary and guns are inappropriate. Sure, people in some settings do feel that way and may even be right to feel that way. But people in other settings feel differently.

      If OP notices that interviewees or fellow board members or others seem uneasy, or that this guy’s presence is problematic in some other way, they can discuss those problems with the board. But the current issue seems to be that there is a uniformed cop at board meetings, and I’m not sure that’s causing a problem for anyone but OP.

      OP, if you’re uncomfortable around cops and/or guns and you can’t deal with meetings with this guy, that’s a valid reason to look for another job. I don’t want to imply that you have to be comfortable with these things. But if everyone else is ok and there’s no work problems being caused, you may not be able to change this.

      1. Leave*

        These are all such privileged comments. Take a step back and try and imagine why they might be uncomfortable, why it might be more welcoming to not have someone show up in uniform.

        1. wepa*

          As someone who lived in the the area when Amadou Diallo when murdered and POC, I understand why people wary of the police but that doesn’t change to advice people are giving the OP. She is in a small town and the board has already dismissed her concerns twice. Its not privileged just reality. Sometimes this comment section likes to give advice in a vacuum as if other concerns shouldn’t be factored in.

          Also who are the interviewees? I’m assuming they would be people from the community and so this wouldn’t be out of the norm. If someone does interview and they are uncomfortable with the presence of the LEO, then they can self select out because the officer isn’t going to leave

          1. Not Me*

            And you really can’t understand how the presence of the LEO could create a disparate impact in hiring when people self-select out?

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              I didn’t see where wepa said they couldn’t understand that or even where they said anything about increasing diversity of hirees?

      2. Deanna Troi*

        To many POC, LGBTQIA, and other minorities, the police ARE scary, and often for legitimate reason. If you’re advocating that if you feel intimidated by the cops, you shouldn’t work here, then you are saying that it is okay for this workplace to have very little diversity. Hiring only people who are just like yourself just reinforces the discomfort that “outsiders” feel when they interact with staff members. This is how racist workplaces are created and perpetuated.

  41. pretzelgirl*

    I graduated college at the beginning of social media. Everyone was like OMG take your social media down, don’t post anything! TBH I never changed a thing. I am not one to post much anyway. I don’t think any employer, has ever looked at any social media of mine. If they didn’t hire me bc I posted a pic of myself in a bathing suit, I would’nt want to work there anyway!

  42. Elliot*

    Re: Letter Writer 3: I also did the big “social media” purge as I was finishing college and seeking employment! Only to get hired and find that my company has a strict policy against looking at an applicant’s social media. I work for a tech company, and our “reasoning” is that IP addresses/search history/etc could be subpoeniaed in a discrimination case. Looking at applicants’ social media might inform a hiring manager that they’re LGBTQ, or a person of color, or disabled, etc. We don’t want that as a factor in hiring manager reasoning.

    I’m interested to hear if any companies still are trying to do the big social media search of candidates, and if so, why! I see it beneficial if someone has engaged in hate speech publicly, but otherwise don’t see the value.

  43. Budgie Buddy*

    OP #5, you seem not to have been updated that at the Official Council of Zoomers, it was decided that in 2021 “Gumption” would be phased out in favor of “Pushy” and that all other generations would just have to, in the words of the announcement, “Deal with it.” Hope this helps? :/

    (Seriously though, no, everyone else is right that this is not “the new norm.” This sounds like just one clueless person, and you’re not obligated to keep replying.)

  44. Alix*

    For OP #3 — when I’m hiring and I check a candidate’s social media and see that they have a private account, I think “yay they’re smart, their social media is private!”
    One summer I was hiring a summer camp counselor and their main Facebook profile picture was them drinking with their underage campers somewhere else — described in the caption! …they didn’t get a call.

  45. Lyra Silvertongue*

    I would be super put off by an in-uniform cop interviewing me for a position at a library and would conduct myself entirely differently. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask someone else to do the interviews if it is impossible for this cop to not be in uniform because of always being on call (which I can accept may be a necessary thing in small towns, but does not mean that it’s not really out of place in a library employee interview).

    1. Lobsterp0t*

      Yep same. I’d be extremely weirded out.

      Also – sorry but if they’re on call what if there’s stuff coming over their radio?! So distracting. I know Gomer and Andy isn’t The Wire but still. I would feel bewildered by the mix of interview setting and potential random interruptions.

    2. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

      I’d get the interview over with as soon as possible and get the heck out of there. Even if I got the job, I don’t think I would ever be able to relax in that environment.

  46. TabithaNotBrown*

    OP#2 – Unless this person’s actions affect you personally – besides being annoyed at the “unfairness” of it all – respectfully mind your business.

  47. Hiring Mgr*

    This isn’t really related directly to the question, but is it common in some places or industries for board members to be involved in interviewing? I could see if it’s for a very high level role, but in general does it happen much? I’ve only been interviewed by a board member once, and that was for a head of sales role, and even that was more just a “meet for coffee and chat”

    1. California Typewriter*

      For such a small operation I could see it. I work in higher ed and every position I’ve held has included an interview with the Vice President of the area. I can imagine a panel of the director, maybe a current employee, and a board member.

  48. Meg*

    I do think it’s important to give the pushy color student feedback that his approach isn’t the right one to take. If you enjoy mentoring and networking, the next growth opportunity for YOU is to provide difficult feedback. A key aspect in these relationships is honesty and helping the mentee grow, which means as a mentor you may need to be uncomfortable helping them grow (which i. Turns helps you as well).

  49. No longer disappointed but disgusted*

    Alison, I hope you read this. By hiding behind your “focus on giving advice” rule you have left up a slew of racist comments related to cops in the us (the advice given was largely “don’t hate cops for being cops” and “if you can’t deal with a racist work environment, maybe you should move” ). All while deleting comments that sought to educate your numerous racist pro-cop readers about the history and racism of policing in the US. I recognize that this comment will likely be deleted, but I hope you see it and sit with the thought that your actions (and inaction) here today have helped to perpetuate racism and injustice. I am ashamed that I once considered myself a fan of yours and even shared some of your posts discussing racism and the workplace. I hope you will consider engaging more actively in anti-racism work in the future.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hi. I removed comments that were debating issues outside the letter (like police in general), and threads that had devolved into personal sniping. If I missed some that fall in those categories (and I may have — there are a lot of comments here and I don’t do this full-time), please feel free to flag them for me and I will take a look. You can flag comments for review by replying to them with a link — which will go to moderation — and a note to me.

      I do think there are many comments remaining on both sides of the issue. (And for what it’s worth, I’m personally on the side of those that raise the profound issues with policing.) But in your case, I removed most of your comments because you were using multiple user names to argue the same point, which is not allowed here because it’s sock puppetry. That’s consistently been a banning offense.

    2. mcfizzle*

      Ideals are great, but the advice given was for someone living in this small town. You seem to want to bag on police as an institution, but how is that going to help this specific LW?
      Personally, I hate the “good ol’ boys” club, but that doesn’t stop it from existing in my workplace. Since I can’t individually dismantle it, it seems important to figure out how to work within it without blowing up my career.

  50. sunny-dee*

    haven’t been able to gain much respect.
    This jumped out at me. Yes, outsiders can have a hard time integrating into a small town – but I have done it. And it’s usually a lot easier to integrate in a professional capacity even if you aren’t really accepted in a personal way yet. If you’ve been there awhile and they don’t really respect you, that’s an issue.

    I wonder if the gun issue is indicative of a larger cultural issue. If you are out of sync with your BOD, that can create other problems.

  51. Des*

    A lot of students are being told to “network” without being taught how. I think it would be a kindness for you to explain to him that what he’s doing is very much outside the norm.

  52. ele4phant*

    LW1 – as someone that considers myself very liberal, is low-key freaked out by the presence of guns, but that grew up in a rural small town (and is the child of said town’s Library Director, no less), you’re out of step here, and no wonder you’re having a hard time building respect. This is definitely not a hill to die in.

    You have a board member that comes to meetings in his work uniform. That uniform happens to include a number of tools, one of which is a gun. A very scary, high powered tool, but it is a tool of his job. You also probably live in a community that has very different attitudes about guns generally, and you making a fuss over it highlights that you don’t understand the values of your community.

    I think, if him being on call is disruptive to you getting business done, there might be an argument to discuss whether the board meeting should be moved to accommodate his schedule when he’s off-duty (which as many others have mentioned, may not be a thing for him), or if a few more people to the board so him being called off doesn’t make you lose your quorum.

    At the end of the day, you and he both work for a very small municipality, and you should look to build relationships with other City employees. Library’s are often the step children in small City’s, particularly when they are looking to make budget cuts. You having allies in the City government is only going to benefit you. Do not alienate this guy, you may really benefit from having him on your side, and using him to build relationships with other players at the City.

    As an aside – when my mother was Library Director, one of her most successful educational programs was having the safety instructor from the local NRA chapter come in and talk about gun safety. Obviously resonated well with patrons, but also, she learned stuff that made her feel more comfortable and confident around people that have guns.

    Maybe use your role at the Library to learn more about the community you are in.

    1. Firearms Trainer*

      Love this response! OP1 is new to the community and clearly the rest of the group doesn’t have a problem with it so it’s not something that they are likely to change. Frankly, a LOT of people that they’re interacting with on a daily basis are probably also carrying and they have no idea — hence concealed carry. The vast majority of people I interact with have no idea I have a gun on me and they don’t need to know.

      Also love the educational program that your library offered. Like it or not, there are record gun sales right now and the vast majority of people don’t have any training (or don’t know what they don’t know) so providing opportunities for increasing safety knowledge is a win.

  53. Pyjamas*

    Ah well, no one here is gonna be happy; if anything this thread has exacerbated the divide. However, for LW it’s a win win. If she decides to stay in the small town, there is practical advice that, in time, will help her gain respect & social capital. If she decides to leave, she’ll be able to dine out on her small town stories in front of a properly horrified audience. Anyway I wish her the best. Ciao!

  54. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Does anyone’s calculus change if the officer happens to be a lady? A gentleman of color? A lady of color?

    Is the officer acting irresponsibly with the weapon in any way? Or is it just holstered and existing?

    I do agree that the board should expand; the officer’s contributions are doubtlessly valuable, but losing the quorum is problematic for advancing the organization’s agenda. It’d be no different than having a doctor on call who is subject to having to address a medical emergency.

    1. Lobsterp0t*

      I think this misses the point.

      A police uniform on any body speaks for the institution it represents. So does the service weapon strapped to their hip.

      There’s a lot of valid reasons not to want that institution to be front and centre when conducting library business.

      That doesn’t make this a winnable argument for OP1. And that’s kind of the point.

  55. Lobsterp0t*

    What about, instead of focusing on the cop board member (which is almost certainly a nonstarter), the OP1 makes a list of every possible idea they can think of to make the library an inclusive, accessible place that is friendly and welcoming to the entire community.

    I’m guessing the board members don’t lurk outside the front door of the building like bouncers.

    The police as a modern institution and by their history are racist and violent. Facts. The board member might or might not have the ability to present themselves differently. The board isn’t gonna budge on that either way.

    Meanwhile what isn’t being focused on or done that could be? I guess it’s a case of pick your battles. If the library does a slew of great initiatives, are those undone because the board member is still a cop who still comes to board meetings while on call?

    Like yes, this is A way of trying to make change. But is it the most effective or impactful way?

    I think it would’ve been way more reasonable to say “look, when we’re doing interviews can we let Jim off the hook if he has to be in uniform? That’s likely to freak some candidates out” but I think the opportunity has been wasted by making it about a laundry list of unwinnable arguments.

    Is the most anti racist thing here to ragequit and leave? Or to keep pushing this instead of running great library programs? I don’t think it has to be either or but I do think continuing to pick this fight in this way makes it either or and loses you allies for other arguably more important work.

    Let’s say you won tomorrow, what exactly would you have achieved? What lasting impact would you have made that makes impact for your community? Those are good questions to ask.

  56. Caramel & Cheddar*

    Re: #1 – is there a reason a board member even needs to be part of the interviews, or why it has to specifically be this guy in full uniform with a gun if they *do* need a board member? Because it feels like there are other solutions available here (interview people by yourself, invite a different board member to participate) that I haven’t seen discussed much in the comments yet.

  57. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    LW5, while I admit my law school’s networking advice was very poor, no one ever suggested that you go into a networking situation to talk about yourself the whole time. In fact, they emphasized the importance of having questions ready and truly looking to learn from the experience rather than sell yourself to someone. I think this kid is just out of touch. That said, while a heads up would be a kindness, I’m guessing it would fall on deaf (or annoyed) ears. So I’d take Allison’s advice that it is not a task you need to take on.

Comments are closed.