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ASU professor accused of plagiarism resigns from role with Phoenix

PHOENIX — An Arizona State University professor accused of plagiarism has resigned from a consulting job with the city of Phoenix.

Matthew Whitaker canceled his $284,000 contract Monday with Phoenix Police as a consultant after a new round of plagiarism allegations.

Whitaker was hired to teach officers diversity after the deaths of two unarmed black men, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown. The training was designed to stop similar shootings in Phoenix.

“There isn’t sufficient training, particularly in cultural competency,” Whitaker said in April. “We live in a very diverse world and it’s becoming more diverse by the minute.”

Councilmember Jim Waring said Whitaker was working for Phoenix Police before getting council approval in June. When the time came to vote, he said there was little option but to approve the contract.

“Several of us had a lot of questions about this,” he said. “There had been issues before, allegedly.”

Waring said the council was give assurance that a 2011 accusation of plagiarism over allegedly copied portions of a book was in the past.

“We were assured, repeatedly, that there were going to be no more issues,” he said.

In a statement, Councilman Sal DiCiccio said the city should have taken more bids for the job.

ASU demoted Whitaker from a full professor to an associate and he is now co-director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.

Whitaker declined to comment.

Waring said Whitaker did the right thing by stepping down.