Two academy trainers and a cadet were recently fired from West Virginia’s Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation after a photo appeared online depicting an entire class of cadets giving the Nazi salute. According to the state’s Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, at least 34 other employees remain suspended without pay.
Marked with official seals, the photo bears the label: “West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Basic Training Class #18.” Above the class of cadets giving the Nazi salute are the words: “Hail Byrd!”
The class was conducted between October 21 and November 27.
On Friday, Jeff Sandy, the director of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, released the following statement: “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.
“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.”
Sandy concluded, “I remain outraged by this incident, as does Gov. Justice, Commissioner Jividen, and the rest of the DMAPS and DCR team. 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.”
“This will not be tolerated on my watch—within the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation—or within any agency of state government,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a recent statement after viewing the controversial photo.
Pending the investigation, Sandy has refused to disclose the identities of the employees in the photo. DCR Commissioner Betsy Jividen has reportedly ordered that all copies of the photo circulating within the department be destroyed.