A class of West Virginia correctional officers in training took a group photo in which they threw up Nazi salutes.
Several government employees have been suspended over the photo and an internal investigation is ongoing, Jeff Sandy, secretary of the state’s Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, wrote in a memo Wednesday.
“I have seen the photo of Basic Training Class Number 18. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Sandy wrote to employees in the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“It is distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive and completely inappropriate.”
The department provided a copy of Sandy’s memo and a copy of the photo in question, with faces blurred, to TPM on Thursday. The Charleston Gazette-Mail first published the photo on Thursday after local news channel WCHS reported on Sandy’s memo.
In a statement to TPM, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) said he’d ordered the termination of “all those that are found to be involved in this conduct.”
The photo includes the caption “HAIL BYRD!”
Brian Abraham, Justice’s legal advisor, told the Gazette-Mail that was a reference to the director of the training class in the picture. Lawrence Messina, a spokesperson for the department, told TPM that “Byrd” is “a training instructor for the class.”
This post has been updated.