West Virginia governor and lawmakers react to salute photo

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — The photo depicts Training Class 18, which was finishing its course work and ready to graduate. The cadets were using a nazi-salute to the corrections officer trainer, who’s last name is Byrd. So far two unnamed department trainers and one trainee have been fired, and 34-other people are now suspended without pay.

“It’s a disgraceful thing and it’s an act of stupidity in a lot of different ways… The net of everything has got t to be dismissals, terminations, and we’re moving through the process as expediently as we possibly can,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.

State lawmakers are also outraged. They passed significant pay raises over the past two years, to help deal with a critical shortage of corrections officers.

“Well, this is completely outrageous. They’re in a situation where they are trained to be someone that can’t have a hint of prejudice. And then they’re going through, and at the end of their class, and this is what they do?” said Del. Andrew Robinson, (D) Kanawha.

Various news outlets, including this one, have asked the state for the original photo, without the officers’ faces blotted out. Technically the photo is a public record, and the state is weighing our request.

“We will continue to evaluate this and use that information to making that determination,” said Secretary Jeff Sandy, WV Department of Military Affairs & Public Safety.

We did speak with Officer Byrd, who is being saluted in the photo, but she declined to comment.

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