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Former State Police spokesman Lt. Vance recognized for more than 4 decades of service

PROSPECT -- One of the most recognized faces in the Connecticut State PoliceLt. J. Paul Vance, was awarded for his service ahead of his retirement effective April 1.

Lt. Vance was recognized at The Police Commissioners Association of Connecticut’s annual ceremony, at Aria in Prospect, Wednesday night, for his four decades of service.

“It’s a big team and we all get it done, not just one individual, and that’s my message tonight,” Lt. Vance said. “I’m humbled, I’m honored, and I accept this on behalf of all the men and women in the state police department that will continue to do the work and continue to protect the people in our state.”

Vance, best known for his 16 years serving as the spokesman for the department, has been with the force for 42 years.

“All law enforcement in Connecticut, but troopers especially in Connecticut, do a lot of things that they’re not recognized for and it was always very enlightening if you're willing to be able to deliver that message to the people of Connecticut,” he said. “Yes we do give out speeding tickets, yes we do arrest people that need to be arrested, but we also collect toys for children and food for the hungry and the list just goes on.”

Vance received international attention and praise for his handling of media in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012.

“There were many hard moments, certainly Sandy Hook was a terrible, terrible tragedy” he said. “You have to fight through that, and you have to do what’s expected of you and what was expected of me was to communicate with the people of Connecticut to ensure that they understood what was going on.”

Most recently, he was working as the Department Traffic Coordinator and commanding officer responsible for dignitary protection and other specialized assignments.

Lt. Vance started with the state police in July 1974, several days before Richard Nixon resigned. He was assigned to Troop L in Litchfield at that time. He later moved to the detective division. He served as an instructor in the State Police Academy in Meriden where he taught new Trooper classes and also taught Troopers in-service training.

He was assigned to be part of the first state police aviation units. At the time, the state police helicopters performed police functions in addition to transporting patients to hospitals.

He was assigned to Troop I in Bethany and followed that by working as the resident State Trooper in the town of Prospect for 16 years.

In 1998, he was promoted to Sergeant and assigned to Troop L in Litchfield until he transferred to the Public Information Office as the executive officer.  He was promoted to Master Sergeant and then was assigned as the Commanding Officer of the State Police Public information Office where he served in that capacity for about 16 years.

“It was a tremendous job, if I had the opportunity I’d do it all over again, I truly would,” he said. “I know it’s time for me to leave, but I’m leaving a job that is more than a job to me, it is a profession that I absolutely love and I’ve been very, very fortunate to serve in many different capacities over the last forty years and I’ve learned so much from so many people so I’m really very grateful for everything.”

Vance said his road to retirement includes spending time with his wife and family. He said they plan on continue staying involved in the community.