Corrections denies officers were fired, says 7 are on administrative leave


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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Corrections Bureau is refuting a union official's statement that several corrections officers on St. Thomas were fired following a labor dispute Monday.

Eugene Irish, the vice president of the United Industrial Workers, which represents the bureau's Corrections officers, said on Wednesday that he had received reports from one of his union members that nine officers had been "dismissed from their jobs" by Corrections Bureau Director Julius Wilson.

Irish said he had not received any written communication from the bureau regarding any aspect of the incident or the officers' job status despite sending a letter to Wilson requesting the information.

Bureau spokeswoman Juel Anderson said on Friday that no officers were fired.

"The department isn't going to fire anyone verbally," Anderson said. "That is incorrect."

Irish did not return calls for follow-up comment Friday.

Anderson on Friday issued a press release that quotes St. Thomas Warden Gilbert David as saying that seven of the 13 officers "involved in a job action" earlier in the week had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of administrative hearings. The other six officers "will receive written reprimands that will be placed in their personnel files" and had returned to work as of Friday, according to the release.

Concerning the disciplinary hearings, Anderson said, "Basically, we are going to have the hearings, and we are not going to disclose what takes place."

In the statement, David indicated the fact-finding process is ongoing.

"At this point we continue to review the facts of the investigation and once completed and sufficient evidence found, the agency will move to formally charge the seven officers," he said.

Anderson reiterated Friday that "nothing is final" and that all of the officers will receive due process.

"It's a process," she said. "The hearings were held and it's not complete."

The exact nature of the dispute on Monday remains unclear.

The bureau has described the officers as having "walked off their posts" at the Criminal Justice Complex on St. Thomas.

Irish said the officers requested to speak with their supervisor regarding workplace issues. "The next thing they know, they were sent home," he said.

- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email lmattei@dailynews.vi.

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