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Retired cop’s Des Moines Register column appears to be heavily plagiarized


Photo by Michael Gil
Business Insider’s May article was written by former police officer Justin Freeman. — photo by Michael Gil

A former Iowa cop appears to have plagiarized heavily in a recent column defending police aggression.

Mark Breneman, a retired Polk County Sheriff’s Deputy, published a Des Moines Register guest opinion last week entitled “This is why cops are different from you,” explaining that cops are aggressive because the public they deal with lies so often.

However, about half of that column appears to be ripped off from a blog post reprinted by Business Insider last May. Brennaman appears to have changed some wording, added a few new paragraphs, and took out a couple others, but the bulk of the pieces are largely the same.

The Iowa column — which Register editors pulled from the website on Friday or Saturday, drawing criticism from commenters — was published amid a national conversation about law enforcement reform following an outpouring of criticism over a cop’s killing of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri this summer. Police departments across the country, including here in Johnson County, have faced scrutiny over their equipment and policing tactics. Departments in Iowa and elsewhere have been criticized in particular for using more military equipment and disproportionately targeting minority citizens.

This side-by-side comparison from Copyscape.com shows the similarities between Breneman’s column, on the left, and the Business Insider post, on the right.

 Large portions of the articles are nearly identical. View the full comparison.
Large portions of the articles are nearly identical. View the full comparison.


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