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W.Va. Officials Give Update On Nazi Salute Photo — But Names, Unredacted Photo Not Yet Released

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Emily Allen
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Gov. Jim Justice (left) speaks with Deparment of Military Affairs and Public Safety Sec. Jeff Sandy after a news conference on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.

West Virginia officials have announced that three individuals have been fired and 34 others have been suspended without pay as a result of an investigation into a photo of corrections trainees giving the Nazi salute. However, the governor's office and the agency in charge of the state's corrections' program isn't yet releasing the identities of those involved or the original photo in question. 

A blurred version of the photo, released Thursday by state officials, shows 31 people involved in the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Basic Training Class #18. 

The Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said in a Friday news release that the three terminations include two correctional academy trainers and one of the class cadets in the photo. 

The release also states the other trainees in the photo remain suspended without pay, according to a 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 — where the training took place between Oct. 21 and Nov. 27 —    and other facilities. Department secretary Jeff Sandy estimates that the investigation — which is being reviewed by himself, corrections commissioner Betsy Jividen and their leadership teams — is nearing completion. 

Sandy also says that — until the investigation is complete, and because of personnel rules and protections outlined in West Virginia’s civil service system — the release of names and disciplinary status of the individuals in the photo as well as an unredacted version of it remains pending. At a news conference, Sandy and Gov. Jim Justice cited legal concerns over the release of such information.

Rabbi Victor Urecki of Charleston’s B’nai Jacob Synagogue said he and other faith leaders in the community were shown an unredacted version of the photo Wednesday. 

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