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Julia Ludovici

Dr. Jeremiah Dyehouse

WRT 490

21 February 2019

Inquiry Project 1

This inquiry project explores the composition process of professional writers in their

unique occupational environments. For the purposes of this project, a professional writer is

anyone who regularly engages in writing as a part of their profession or career. Many people

who would not normally consider themselves to be “professional writers” are therefore included

in this category, and thus the communicative identities that these professional writers embody

and express in their writing go largely unexplored. This is very much the case in the life of

Laurie, whose profession, identity, and composition process will be described and analyzed in

the following sections.

Laurie is a senior law enforcement officer on the Rhode Island State Police. She currently

holds the rank of Lieutenant, and serves as the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Research,

Planning, and Accreditation unit. Structurally, the Rhode Island State Police (RISP) is a rather

unique institution; the organization—a “paramilitary” law enforcement agency, according to

their website—operates within two different “bureaus,” and follows a strict chain of command.

The Colonel, or “Number 1,” is the superintendent and director of the organization and is

appointed by the Governor of the State of Rhode Island. The chain of command then follows

downwards in the following order: command staff (Lieutenant-Colonel, Majors, Captains),

Lieutenants, Sergeants, Corporals, and Troopers. This chain of command is extremely important

to the functionality and integrity of the organization as a whole, and impacts nearly all
interpersonal professional relationships and interactions between employees. Laurie, as a

Lieutenant, is not on the “command staff,” but exercises a fair amount of authority within the

organization; specifically, she is the senior-most officer and sole leader within her unit. The

Research, Planning, and Accreditation unit oversees policy and procedure creation and

implementation, and also conducts all research and auditing required for accreditation by the

Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Laurie has served in the RISP for 22 years, in which time she has moved between

bureaus, barracks, units, and ranks. She has been with the Planning, Research, and Accreditation

unit for the last five years, in which time she muses that she has accumulated “a specific skill set

of being able to do some of the administrative side of law enforcement.” The skills she

references, which include research, writing, organization, managerial leadership, and other

crucial administrative tasks, are very different from the skill set of the imagined stereotypical law

enforcement officer. Laurie claims, “it’s different from going out and arresting bad guys; it’s this

administrative side for policy, procedure, compliance, [and] sort of some of the behind the

scenes stuff that happens in law enforcement.” These intellectual and communicative skills in

particular make Laurie an excellent example of the professional writer identity dissonance

mentioned earlier; before our interview, she made a point to criticize my evaluation of her as a

“professional writer.” She expressed doubts that she could fall into that category, when in reality,

her job, and her identity, as a senior law enforcement officer within her particular unit and in her

particular role, rests almost entirely in her ability and responsibility to write—research, plan,

draft, and revise—effectively.

I asked Laurie to provide a specific document in order to guide our conversation about

her composition process. The document she provided was a short email communication she had
written the week prior to our interview. At face value, this email is a request for purchase

approval to buy equipment necessary to bring the organization up to ADA standards for

accessibility compliance. However, the document itself was actually the result of many hours of

trainings, meetings, research, collaboration.

In her description of the origins of this composition, Laurie explains that what prompted

her to write the document was actually a complex and critical process:

I wrote this email specifically last Wednesday after a meeting that I had had on
Monday. It actually goes back to some training I had quite a bit of time ago with
the US Attorney General’s office and the Commission on the Deaf and Hard of
Hearing about ADA compliance. So, I knew back then that our agency wasn’t 100%
in compliance with federal laws about communicating with Deaf and Hard of
Hearing. So, there were a few steps that had to get put in place…I got a few model
policies, and then I had to actually get the subject matter expert to our facility to
meet with us to see what kind of equipment we had, and to talk to us about ways we
can improve our compliance. So, on Monday… after meeting with these people that
I note [in the email], 2 people from my unit and 2 people from the technology and
communications unit… I had to take what came out of that meeting and summarize
it and send it up for approval.
The research process that led to the creation of this document was rather urgent; not only could

the organization potentially be sued if it was found to be not in compliance with federal

regulations, but members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community who interact with the

RISP in any way, are directly impacted by these policies. This email, which requests funding for

specific technologies (an iPad outfitted with cellular service and specific communicative

applications and tools), has real-world implications that genuinely affect the organization as a

whole, and members of the community who interact with the agency in their daily lives (see

Appendix B).
In the planning stage of composition, Laurie emphasized the importance of audience

consideration. In this particular case, she noted that providing the proper amount of context (not

too much, not too little) to clarify the situation and justify the purchase request for her specific

target audience was essential. The email itself was sent primarily to a specific Captain who

approves financial decisions. However, Laurie explained that familiarity with the chain of

command, and the way approval works within her organization, was a crucial aspect of the

composition process.

When I did draft the email, I knew the Captain was going to have to get approval
from the Colonel and that it would need to be forwarded to the Colonel. So, that’s
sort of a chain of command…thing; I knew it would be going to the number 1
because the Captain who was in charge of purchases had approval authority, but
he also had to get approval from the Colonel. So, in that sense I had to know where
it was going beyond just my audience of the people copied on the email.
This type of consideration is hyper-specific to this organization and this type of professional

environment. Laurie’s familiarity with the nuances of organizational structure and function, and

her ability to predict exactly who will see her communication (even though she was not herself

communicating with them directly) and include them in her considerations of audience and

purpose, demonstrates an acute level of professionality and expertise.

Laurie’s streamlined drafting and revising process is perhaps the product of years of day-

in, day-out experience with professional writing. Her email-writing process involves what she

describes as “organizing [her] thoughts” in a Microsoft Word document before “copying and

pasting” the draft into the body of her email software. In reality, this thought-organizing process

is the drafting stage. For a writer with such enormous breadth of experience, writing this

essential piece of communication was really just a matter of organizing her thoughts and

information, and then proof-reading, formatting, and sending those thoughts to the appropriate
other parties. Writing, and all the nuanced considerations and intentions involved, has become so

automatic to her that the entire drafting process boils down to organizing thoughts and

information. As far as revisions go, simple proofreading and running the document through

Microsoft Word’s review spelling and grammar function is often as complicated as it gets. For

such an experienced writer, communicating effectively isn’t just second-nature; it’s automatic.

Laurie’s identity as a well-respected senior law enforcement officer, and as an expert

writer and communicator, is evident in the ease with which she describes her writing process.

Though she does indeed doubt her categorization as a professional writer, she embodies

professionalism and expertise in her communication (Appendix B) and her description of that

communication (Appendix A). Laurie is a thoughtful, intelligent, and highly experienced

professional, and these identities shine through clearly in her work.


Appendix A: Interview Transcription

(recording begins)

Laurie: I do send a lot of emails every day and a lot of times I don’t think about what I’m

sending but in this particular instance, and in a lot of them, I have to really think about who I’m

sending the email to and what message I’m trying to get across, and what’s the purpose of the

email, usually it’s not just to say “hey,” there’s always a reason for it, and in this particular case

in the piece that I picked it was to my supervisors who needed to be aware of a situation, needed

to understand it, be aware of it, and then I’m proposing a fix for it and I need approval to get the

situation fixed. And this particular situation is very complex and very hard to understand so I had

to really take all of this information and make it into a short email so the decision-makers would

understand why we need it. In everything I do I have to try to be articulate, clear, and concise,

because if I go on too much, my audience loses interest. So, that’s why I picked this [document],

because it had a specific purpose. And, it wasn’t an easy one to author because of the amount of

information that could’ve gone into it.

Julia: So basically, the framework for this paper and the research is this composition process

that was put forward by two academics (Lannon and Gurak) who described the writing process

as 4 stages (researching, planning, drafting, and revising), so I broke the questions down into

those four sections to kind of help us look at each different stage of your writing process.

Laurie: Okay

Julia: So, first we have researching. When were you prompted to write this piece? Do you know

when?

Laurie: I wrote this email specifically last Wednesday after a meeting that I had had on Monday.

It actually goes back to some training I had quite a bit of time ago with the US Attorney
General’s office and the Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing about ADA compliance.

So, I knew back then that our agency wasn’t 100% in compliance with federal laws about

communicating with Deaf and Hard of Hearing. So, there were a few steps that had to get put in

place. We have a policy, but I got a few model policies, and then I had to actually get the subject

matter expert to our facility to meet with us to see what kind of equipment we had, and to talk to

us about ways we can improve our compliance. So, on Monday, that Monday would have been

the 4th, after the meeting, and after meeting with these people that I note [in the email], 2 people

from my unit and 2 people from the technology and communications unit, we met and then from

that point I had to take what came out of that meeting and summarize it and send it up for

approval. You’ll see at the end where I suggest implementing some technologies, there’s a cost

associated. So, when the meeting was over, the guy who suggested the iPad and the cellular

service on the iPad, he flipped it around and then everybody kind of turned to me and said “well,

are you approving this?” and I said “well, I can’t approve it” you know, I’m not the one who

spends money here, I have to get approval from the command staff. And so, from that is where

this email was drafted.

Julia: So, thank you, actually that was a really great response. You basically answered all of my

questions for this section, so—

Laurie: Are you sure?

Julia: Yeah, my next one was who or what prompted it, which you answered, and then what

resources did you consult in order to write the piece—

Laurie: Mhmm. So, the prompting of it was the training that we went to and the reason for that

training is the US attorney’s office—so, one of the local police departments in the state got sued

by, I want to say it was the ACLU, but because somebody was deaf or hard of hearing and didn’t
have access to the [proper] communication tools. So, from that the US AG office asked every

law enforcement agency in Rhode Island to provide their policy, to see what peoples policies

said, and then that prompted the training, and then all law enforcement officers were invited to

that training, and then from that training I realized that we needed to do a little more, so then I

invite these people in to see our facilities. Yeah, so those are my resources.

Julia: Okay so now we’re on planning, so, you already talked about this a little bit, but how did

you determine your audience?

Laurie: Right, for this particular communication it was in order to get approval for a purchase,

so my audience had to be the person in charge of purchases, which is this captain that I sent the

email to. But I also copied the other people who were affected by it, so you’ll see the actual

email itself was addressed to the captain, but I CC-ed the technology and communication

director and the IT director, and then the people from my office that were involved in that

meeting.

Julia: Good. Okay, um, and I guess you answered this question a little bit already but I’ll ask

you to explain a little bit—did your audience shape the way that you approached this piece of

writing? And how so?

Laurie: Absolutely. So I find with a lot of the things that I write, I have to get to the point—

there’s no beating around the bush. And even that first paragraph of my email, I might have even

been able to get it into two, but really, I wanted to set the tone for what we did-- we met with the

representative—and why. And then so they needed to get a little bit of basic information. They

didn’t need the whole thing that we got from the meeting, they needed just a little bit of basic

information, and because my audience was the approval authority for the purchase, I had to get

right to the cost. So, yes, it definitely came into play. Also, when I did draft the email I knew the
captain was going to have to get approval from the colonel and that it would need to be

forwarded to the colonel. So, that’s sort of a chain of command sort of thing, I knew it would be

going to the number 1 because the captain who was in charge of purchases had approval

authority, but he also had to get approval from the colonel. So, in that sense I had to know where

it was going beyond just my audience of the people copied on the email.

Julia: Cool, thank you! And, did you, and it’s okay if you didn’t, I’m just asking (not judging),

but did you compose like an outline, or organize your thoughts in any way before you started

writing the actual piece, or did you just jump right in?

Laurie: I do think that this was composed in Microsoft Word first. I do a lot of what I do in

Word first so I can organize in a different medium, and then I copy/paste into my email body so

that I know I’ve got my formatting right, I’ve got my sort of flow. So, I would say yes, not a

formal official outline, but definitely organized my thoughts. Like I already told you, I needed a

little bit of a brief overview, and then what we have, and then what we need, so yeah. There are

often times that I draft emails in Word, so that I can copy and paste things in, move them around,

or figure things out.

Julia: This is kind of a fun question, now we’re in the drafting/revising stage. So, I’m interested

in where you composed the piece. Physically, where were you?

Laurie: I wrote it all in my office.

Julia: Okay. And you wrote it all in one place, you didn’t change locations at all?

Laurie: correct.

Julia: Do you listen to music when you write?

Laurie: I always have the radio on in my office. IF it’s not on, then I feel a little distracted.
Julia: Interesting. And, did you write a complete draft before you went back and revised? Or did

you kind of edit and change things as you wrote?

Laurie: I definitely, um, wrote a complete draft, and then I always read again to make sure that

the majority of my tenses are correct (don’t grammar check me) and to make sure I’m making

sense, so I definitely had it written, copied, pasted into my email, and then I read again, make a

few changes sometimes, um, yeah.

Julia: And you talked about kind of shifting things around, a little bit—did that happen as you

were writing, or did that happen after you were done writing all the way through?

Laurie: Um, I can’t say for sure on this one but I do find sometimes that some thoughts I may

have put them in a different place within the text, so sometimes I take it and move some stuff to

the end, or I realize something should have gone at the beginning…I don’t remember on this one

particularly but a lot of times that would happen during the draft, and then even it could happen

during my final revision before I hit send.

Julia: Did you have somebody else read or evaluate this piece before you sent it?

Laurie: Not this one specifically, but sometimes when I’m sending emails to “GLOBAL” or to

“SWORN” (we have two different email listservs, one is everyone who’s a sworn law

enforcement officer, and global is everyone who works for the state police to include civilians).

Sometimes before I hit send to either of those two addresses I definitely make Krystal or Mike

come in and read it before I hit send. Because I’ve had a little bit of a problem in the past.

Julia: Oooh, okay so you’ve kind of already talked about this but you proofread it before you hit

send?

Laurie: Yeah I did, I think, I hope, I hope you don’t find anything—
Julia: I’m not going to be looking for grammar errors, I’m just looking at your composition

process--

(laughter)

Laurie: Yeah, so that’s one of the other reasons why I like Word; our email does have a spell-

check as you type, but I use word and I hit review the spelling and grammar, and Word’s pretty

good at prompting me if something looks like it doesn’t make sense, but I always run through

that review process before I copy and paste. And I always check to make sure that my fonts are

all the same, and everything is lined up the way I want it, and then I copy and paste it into my

email.

Julia: Um, did you walk away from this at all, before you looked it over and revised, or did you

just kind of do it all in one go?

Laurie: So, I did it all in one go for this one. I very rarely save as draft, but I sometimes do.

Very rarely.

Julia: How many drafts did you write? Can you identify more than one draft, or was it just one?

Laurie: Not for this one, just one.

Julia: And how many revisions did you make? I’m not asking you to say like how many

commas you changed, but were there any major revisions that you made to the piece as a whole?

Laurie: Um, I don’t think so.

Julia: Awesome, okay those are the questions about the process itself, but I do have a few more

questions, because there’s part of the assignment that asks “how your writer’s process

illuminates your writer’s specifically professional identity,” so we’re going to talk a little bit

about what you think your professional identity is, what that means, and if/how you think that
kind of shines through in this piece or in the process of writing the piece. So, first, are there any

important steps or details that I didn’t ask about, that you didn’t talk about, that you want to talk

about?

Laurie: Well, I will tell you that every single one of my emails that goes out professionally on

my job is required to finish with “respectfully.”

Julia: Oooh, OH! That’s why you signed mine! I said to [my roommate] just now, “my mom

just sent me an email and signed it “Respectfully, Lieutenant Laurie Ludovici” (laughs)—

Laurie: That auto’s from my phone, from work you get the whole signature bloc (OIC, planning

and research accreditation, RISP), you know. So that shows you a little bit of my professional,

whatever you called it, but even a captain sending me an email—so this captain that I’m sending

the email to, is my classmate but he’s also senior to me, so when he sends me emails, he has to

say respectfully as well. So, it’s a requirement, right. And I think that in drafting this, I would

hope that professionally they know, that I never would have sent this email if I didn’t think that

what we were requesting was important, or that I had enough adequate information to

substantiate it. So, um, that’s something else that shows where I was professionally, you know.

Julia: That was actually a really important detail that I actually wouldn’t have thought to ask

about, because I feel like “respectfully” is just one of those generic things that you slap on the

end of an email, but that’s—

Laurie: No, that’s a requirement, we’re sort of required to do that—

Julia: That’s good to know that it’s sort of organization-wide, it’s not just, like—it’s not a

marker of your personal professional identity, it’s a marker of the profession as a whole, so that’s

definitely good to know. So, my next question is, would you be able to describe or summarize

your professional identity?


Laurie: Is that different than what my job is?

Julia: You could describe your job—

Laurie: Well, my professional identity is—I think, as the Lieutenant officer in charge (OIC) of

this planning, research, and accreditation unit, my professional identity is obviously senior law

enforcement, because after 22 years I’m a senior law enforcement officer, with a specific skill set

of being able to do some of the administrative side of law enforcement. So, you know, it’s

different from going out and arresting bad guys, it’s this administrative side for policy,

procedure, compliance, um, and sort of some of the behind the scenes stuff that happens in law

enforcement. That’s sort of my identity. I would like to think that I am respected, um, in that

particular capacity, so that when I do send emails or when I do provide information, they’re

taken seriously.

Julia: Thank you! So, my last question is, it’s kind of long—can you point to details or moments

in this process of writing this email, that are reflective of that identity that you just described?

So, examples, how you researched the piece, who you consulted, how you constructed the tone,

how you revised—are there moments in particular that you think are kind of like, ah, yeah that’s

me? I don’t know...

Laurie: Well…so…I don’t know…so, moments or times where there was something about this

particular piece?

Julia: Not necessarily the piece itself, the way that you composed the piece--

Laurie: The process. That…what?

Julia: That are reflective of the identity you just described.


Laurie: Oh, yeah yeah yeah! Yes, because I had all of this knowledge in my head that I knew I

couldn’t hold onto, and because I understood it all, because of my ability to process what was

needed, and after the meeting that we had, um with these people, we all knew that we needed to

change something, but my particular professional identity right now is how to get that change

done. So I knew going into this that I had to effectively articulate what we needed and get what

we needed done, and get what we needed approved. So I feel like if not for my professional

identity, this wouldn’t have even—you know, I had it all up in my head, I knew what needed to

be done, and knowing that that’s my responsibility, you know, that’s what prompted me to push

this forward and get it done.

Julia: Awesome. Well, thank you!

(recording ends)

Appendix B: Document

From: Ludovici, Laurie <laurie.ludovici@risp.gov>


Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 9:36 AM
To: Buonaiuto, Kenneth
Cc: Guy, Bill; Friedrich, Stephen; Shea, James; Carvalho, Krystal; Weaver, Darnell
Subject: ADA Compliance for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Captain Buonaiuto,

On Monday, Bill Guy, Steve Friedreich and P&R met with representatives from the RI
Department of Human Services Office of Rehabilitative Services. The Purpose of the meeting
was to review Division compliance with Federal and State laws requiring the agency to
effectively communicate with persons with disabilities (i.e. vision, hearing or speech). The goal
of the requirement is to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive equally effective
communication to those who do not have a disability. These individuals could be members of
the public encountering Division members for a variety of reasons to include requesting
assistance, reporting a crime, witness of a crime, or be in the custody of the Division.

In addition to the TTY at Headquarters, and enabling the “captioning” function on the Cisco
phones, and to implement sound procedures and provide adequate technologies, it was
recommended that the Division purchase an iPad dedicated to the applications (apps)
commonly used by members of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Please consider this request for approval for MIS to purchase the following from Verizon vendor
(does not require a critical or
purchase order) for Headquarters facility:
• iPad Pro with Verizon cellular service installed (like air card) at a cost of $500—$ 1000
(includes keyboard and case)
• Adding $40/month to Verizon bill (like adding phone line)

Once this is implemented at Headquarters, current policies will be revised, training will be
provided and we can provide similar iPad equipment to each barracks location.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Respectfully,
Lieutenant Laurie Ludovici
OIC—Planning, Research & Accreditation Unit
Rhode Island State Police
** NEW PHONE NUMBER (401) 7645464**