West Virginia Governor Will Fire Cadets Pictured Giving a Nazi Salute
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West Virginia Governor Will Fire Cadets Pictured Giving a Nazi Salute

It seems as if the longer President Trump is in office, the more blatant racists are going about the flaunting of their ignorance. According to CNN, West Virginia governor Jim Justice will terminate every cadet who posed for photographs giving the nazi salute.

In a press release, West Virginia Governor, Jim Justice stated, after receiving and reviewing the official report completed by the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety related to the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Academy Class 18 and has approved the recommendations submitted by DMAPS Secretary Jeff Sandy.

“I have reviewed the factual information regarding this incident that was provided by Secretary Sandy, and have approved all of his recommendations,” Gov. Justice said. “I expressed my thanks to him and the entire Department for quickly getting this report done.

“As I said from the beginning, I condemn the photo of Basic Training Class 18 in the strongest possible terms. I also said that this act needed to result in real consequences – terminations and dismissals. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated on my watch in any agency of State government.

“We have a lot of good people in our Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. But this incident was completely unacceptable. Now, we must continue to move forward and work diligently to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”​

Below is the letter sent to West Virginia Governor Jim Justice sent from DMAPS Secretary Jeff Sandy:

On Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 following the Corrections Academy graduation of Class 18 in Glenville, West Virginia, we received information about “unbecoming conduct” on the part of two staff members and cadets from Basic Class 18. These individuals failed to maintain the high level of professionalism demanded by your administration.

Per your orders, attached is Commissioner Betsy Jividen’s transmittal memorandum and the Executive Report. Based on the report, I recommend the following:

(1) Termination of one additional Academy staff member who failed to report the content of the class photograph, the substance of conversations with Instructor Byrd regarding the practice and the photograph, and also her knowledge of the ongoing conduct, thereby contributing to the negative perception and indelible harm that has resulted from the incident. This brings the total number of Academy staff terminations to three at this point in time.

(2) Suspension without pay for four Academy Instructors who are currently known to have seen the photograph and failed to report its content, or to have witnessed Instructor Byrd and her class participating in this conduct and while making attempts to stop it, failed to take the necessary steps to report the conduct and to ensure that it was, in fact, no longer occurring, thereby contributing to the negative perception and indelible harm that has resulted from the incident.

(3) I am further recommending the termination of all cadets participating in the open-handed salute and the closed fist salute in the class photograph. As the Executive Summary also reflects, some other cadets stated variously that they were aware of the connotations associated with the gesture, that they were uncomfortable with the practice, that they did not participate in its use during class, and/or that they only followed what they perceived to be an order from Instructor Byrd to do the “Hail Byrd” for the photograph because they feared they would not graduate, or would be disciplined for failure to follow the order of a superior. Nonetheless, their conduct, without question, has also resulted in the far-reaching and harmful perceptions that are the antithesis of the values we strive to attain. The inevitable consequence of the conduct has not only damaged the reputation of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, but also negatively impacts morale across the workforce.

I concur with the Commissioner’s actions to date and her recommendations for addition training. Although, it would have been best for the state had this event never happened; the event showed that your mandate of having a transparent Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety has worked. The citizens of West Virginia should be proud of the transparency exercised in the handling of this unfortunate event and how the Commissioner and Inspector General have worked to bring this matter to a quick conclusion.

During this highly publicized event, I have personally received communications from domestic and international law enforcement; federal authorities; and domestic political figures praising the transparency and expediency with which this matter was handled.

If you have any questions about my recommendations, the Commissioner Jividen, the Inspector General, the MAPS Legal Team, and I are available to provide any additional information.


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