I (35f) serve as legal counsel for my country's Police Department. I'm currently developing written police procedures for the various divisions which involves meeting with the department heads (8 men ~40-50ish) to collaborate on creating policy that accurately reflects current capacity while setting the highest standards possible for our police force.
I'm very aware that these veteran cops think I'm some naive political hire who thinks too highly of her education but knows nothing about real police work. Our meetings are exhausting and make pulling teeth the more attractive option.
It's a delicate balance having to play dumb just enough so they feel like they're educating me without seeming like a complete idiot, and asking targeted questions to nudge the conversation to where it needs to be.
I know being disingenuous is already an AH move, but I've tried being "myself" and was promptly put in my place. Every once in a while the chief will ask me to make him a cup of coffee just to remind me, and this is aside from all the casual sexism "smile, why are you frowning", "someone forgot to put on her face", "are those your girl boss heels"
So this morning we're attempting to hammer out (get rid of) a particularly problematic practice (forcing victims of crime to follow up with the specific cop who originally responded to the call while they're on duty...imagine being a mugging victim at 3am) and these men are all trying to explain to me why the officer in charge of the case can't allow their partner or the shift commander take follow up inquiries because I obviously just don't grasp the complications of serious police business.
After a heated back and forth the chief comments how intense that was and that he needs a fresh cup of coffee, and asked me to toss the perfectly fine pot to brew a stronger fresh pot.
So I admittedly lost it. I yelled at them all to make me a cup of coffee each bc at that point, I'd need it to power thru the migraine they induced upon me with their sheer collective idiocy. AITAH here?
ETA for further context: To start the SOPs, I began by meeting with the actual officers of the divisions, and I developed many close professional relationships as well as a few friendships.
The bottleneck is really the leadership who's stuck in "this is just the way we do things" (ex, accepting a minor's signature on a waiver without a parent or guardian or any adult advocate present). So since the SOPs are pretty complete as to substance, I'm meeting with leadership for the "aspirational" portion, and that's where I'm faced with conflict. I did begin by making coffee and serving snacks, and I was snubbed enough that now I just have those things available.
I know I sound insufferable, but it's the end of a long tortured rope; nuclear isn't in my first 10 approaches. I live in a small community where we can't avoid one another. Most of my interactions are friendly and helpful.
Just to clarify, I didn't actually scream or yell at the too of my voice, but I did raise my voice a bit. Not my best moment, ig. Also, this wasn't our first meeting. This has been a 10 month project with periodic consultations resulting in hundreds of pages of procedures and policies from writing 911 operators script, to creating an inmate bill of rights, to mandatory periodic mental health assessments for officers... and all the forms that go with those policies.
As far as our email chain indicates, as of last night, the "signing ceremony" is still scheduled for Oct 30. So I'm obviously coming off as a condescending judgmental AH, and I should probably work on how to express myself.
I think maybe I miscommunicated a lot. I don't want their respect, I want them to be willing to work with me to improve their divisions, leave a legacy if that sounds better, to minimize our liability and protect everyone's rights. I know that this next bit will sound bad but I didn't mean they actually put me in my place, the chief likes to push traditional gender roles as a power play when he feels threatened and I just let him have his moment so the work gets done.
Yes, I'm drafting the policies as I turn their current procedures and best practices into words on paper. Sometimes, I give advice as their counsel. But the actual policies are those preferred by rank and file cops I only take their ideas and make them into a document. The substance is theirs.
Definitely stop making coffee at their request. Tell them that isn’t in your job responsibilities
I’m in my fifties and have several men and women that report to me. The role of one of them is literally to be my assistant. I’ve never asked anyone to get me a cup of coffee or make a pot of coffee. It’s an intentional move by sexist old dinosaurs who need to retire or at least retire that mentality that is no longer acceptable.
NTA- as a woman who worked in the Judiciary for a long, long time in different roles... I know exactly what you're talking about. Sexism is still alive and well in many of those "good ole boy" spaces. Good for you for losing it- maybe they'll reconsider the way they talk to women in their offices, but probably not.
NTA you’re a damned lawyer. Next time they ask for a cup of coffee ask them if they’d like it with one lawsuit or two.
NTA. You need to put them in place.