CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — The West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety and its Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation says that three individuals have been fired and 34 remain suspended without pay as they work to complete the investigation into a group photo of West Virginia correction officer trainees giving what appears to be the Nazi salute.
According to a release from WVDMAPS Secretary Jeff Sandy, the three who were fired are 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.
WVDMAPS says 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 Wednesday, December 4, 2019, Sandy informed all DCR employees of the ongoing investigation and had faith and community leaders briefed as well.
“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.”