Sheriff David Clarke denies plagiarizing content in master’s thesis

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who says that he has been appointed deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, has denied that he plagiarized content in his master’s thesis on the security of the homeland, while the Naval Postgraduate School confirmed Sunday that it is reviewing the allegations.

The denial followed a report by CNN Saturday, said Clarke, who built a following among conservatives with his provocative social media presence and the strong support of President Donald Trump, it does not properly attribute his sources at least 47 times in 2013, his dissertation, entitled “the Making of US security and privacy rights compatible.”

Clarke wrote in an e-mail to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that “only someone with a political agenda would say this is plagiarism.”

The Department of Homeland Security has not yet confirmed Clarke’s appointment as assistant secretary, that the tough talk, cowboy hat-wearing sheriff announced Wednesday during an appearance on a Wisconsin radio talk show. Clarke said that he would act as liaison between the DHS Secretary, John Kelly and state and local officials, including mayors and law enforcement, as well as the people in the private sector.

The Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, removed his dissertation from the online archive on Friday, Lt. Cmdr. Clint Phillips, a school spokesman, told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The CNN report said Clarke lifted language from different sources, and the footnotes from these sources, but did not use quotation marks to show that he had used passages literally, despite the school guidelines say that material quoted word-for-word should be set off with quotation marks, or presented as indented text for longer passages, and be followed with a proper citation.

Clarke’s thesis was replaced at the school in the online-archive with a message that says: “This item is removed from the display to the opinion of the Naval Postgraduate School.” The message directed viewers to the archive of the policy page, which included a number of possible reasons for taking an item down, including non-meeting “of the School guidelines for plagiarism, research methodology or integrity of research.”

A Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, Fran McLaughlin, told the newspaper that Clarke attended the school, is a system for writing papers and the report from CNN was biased. She refused to provide additional information when asked by the AP on Sunday, saying in an e-mail, “The sheriff said, follow the national media for his reaction to this slander.”

Phillips said the Naval Postgraduate School of the “standard operating procedure” is to take a thesis at any time questions are raised about the validity while the school conducts an internal academic research. He said that the review is “very thorough,” and refused to speculate on how long it will take or the possible consequences for the Clarke.

“I can’t comment on the status of his degree or even on the status of the thesis at this point,” he said.

The school is 2013 and 2017 honor codes define plagiarism as “submitting material that in part or whole is not the own work without quoting the source. Plagiarism is further defined as “the use, without giving reasonable and appropriate credit to or recognition of the author or source, of another person’s original work. …”

It was a time of turmoil for Clarke and the sheriff ‘ s office, even before the job announcement and the plagiarism allegations. Seven employees in the jail he oversees the center of a criminal investigation into the dehydration death last year of an inmate who prosecutors say was deprived of water as a punishment.

The Milwaukee County prosecutor is considering against these officers, based on a jury recommendation after a weeklong inquest. Clarke was not among the seven, because the prosecutors say that he was not directly involved in the events leading up to the prisoner’s death. But the death has happened under his leadership, which his critics say that was a sufficient reason for Clarke’s firing.

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