CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Gov. Jim Justice announced today in a press release that he has received and reviewed 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.
The following are the recommendations:
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 tto 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 ensue 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 state 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.
“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,” remarked the Governor.
Read the full release here.