UPDATE: Three West Virginia Division of Corrections employees fired after Nazi salute photo

UPDATE (12/6/19) – CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Three individuals have been fired and 34 remain suspended without pay, and the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety and its Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation work to complete the investigation into a photo of a training class, Secretary Jeff Sandy said Friday.

The three terminations are of two correctional academy trainers and one of the Basic Training Class #18 cadets in the photo. The remaining trainees in the photo remain suspended without pay, via DCR policy that does allow them to apply any earned annual leave during such a suspension.

Investigators have conducted more than 50 interviews at the Glenville academy and other facilities. Sandy, DCR Commissioner Betsy Jividen and their leadership teams have been reviewing the statements and other evidence throughout the investigation, with Sandy estimating that the investigation is nearing completion.

Sandy has also cautioned that until the investigation is complete, and because of personnel rules and protections outlined in West Virginia’s civil service system, the release of specifics such as the names and disciplinary status of the individuals in the photo as well as an unredacted version of it remains pending.

“We are committed to a full and complete investigation that we will present to Governor Justice and to the public once it is finished,” Sandy said. “As terrible as this incident has been, it is critically important that we go by the book to arrive at the whole truth of what occurred and why.”

On Dec. 4, Sandy informed all DCR employees of the ongoing investigation and had faith and community leaders briefed as well.

The memo can be found here: https://dmaps.wv.gov/News-Announcements/Pages/Secretary-Sandy-memo-to-all-employees-of-the-Division-of-Corrections-and-Rehabilitation.aspx.

“I remain outraged by this incident, as does Gov. Justice, Commissioner Jividen, and the rest of the DMAPS and DCR team,” Sandy said. “I cannot stress enough how this betrays the high standards and professionalism of the men and women of corrections, who successfully carry out their vital and daunting public safety mission every day and around the clock.”.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A photo of West Virginia corrections trainees was so disturbing that some employees have been suspended and the governor has ordered some to be fired — but what the image shows remains a mystery. Some say it shows the members doing a Nazi salute.

The photo is the focus of a memo that state officials made public Thursday.

The letter, sent by West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Jeff Sandy to the agency’s Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Wednesday, doesn’t make clear what the image shows or how many employees have been suspended.

Sandy described the photo of Basic Training Class Number 18 as “distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive, and completely inappropriate.” He wrote that the picture “betrays the professionalism I have seen time and time again displayed and practiced by our brave correctional employees.”

Republican Gov. Jim Justice issued a statement Thursday condemning the photo and ordered the firing of those involved.

“This will not be tolerated on my watch — within the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation — or within any agency of state government,” said Justice.

Sandy has ordered all copies of the picture destroyed or taken out of circulation to prevent them from spreading. He said an investigation of the incident is ongoing.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com