LATEST: 3 fired, dozens suspended after controversial corrections photo

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December 6, 2019 1:30 p.m. UPDATE: CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — Three people were fired and 34 were suspended without pay following a controversial picture of West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation trainees.

According to a release from the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, the three terminations are two correctional academy trainers and one of the Basic Training Class #18 cadets in the photo. The other trainees in the photo remain suspended without pay.

The WV Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation is still investigating the incident. Investigators conducted more than 50 interviews. The release of specific names is pending.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK/AP) — A photo of West Virginia corrections trainees doing a Nazi salute lead to some employees being suspended, and the governor has ordered some to be fired. 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.”

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

“I condemn the photo of Basic Training Class #18 in the strongest possible terms,” Gov. Justice said. “I have directed Secretary Jeff Sandy of the Dept. of Military Affairs and Public Safety to continue actively investigating this incident and I have ordered the termination of all those that are found to be involved in this conduct. This will not be tolerated on my watch – within the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation – or within any agency of state government.”

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.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin also released a statement on the incident.

“Based on the photo I have seen and the anti-Semitic intent it appears to show, this behavior warrants an immediate investigation and anyone who participated in any hateful and disgusting action should not be able to work for or be paid by the federal or state government and should be removed from their position immediately. It is unacceptable and should not be tolerated whatsoever. This is not the West Virginia I know or grew up in.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin

You can see a full copy of the memo below:

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