During his 16 years as Connecticut State Police spokesman, Lt. J. Paul Vance has been the face of the department during severe weather events, criminal investigations and some of the state's darkest days, like those of the brutal Cheshire home invasion and Sandy Hook school massacre.
Thursday was his last in this role. The department announced last month that Vance has been reassigned to head up the state police traffic division.
"I'm extremely proud and I think we're the best police department in the entire country when I speak for the Connecticut police," Vance said. "Quite frankly, I was honored every time I stood in front of the camera because it wasn't me doing whatever heroic efforts that were placed out there. It was the men and women of this department."
He’s served the Connecticut State Police for 41 years altogether.
Vance said the nature of his job as public information officer changed as social media became mainstream and morphed into a go-to news source. The advent of Facebook, Twitter and blogs made his job a 24/7 responsibility.
"I'm not going to miss the 3 in the morning phone calls. I'm not going to miss driving out in the snow to talk to reporters, but I will miss the media. There's no question. I've made some good friends in all different places in the media," he said.
His reassignment to the traffic division came as a surprise, but Vance said it’s not his place to advertise his opinion.
"I’m a soldier," Vance said. "I do what I’m told."
Vance said he doesn’t deserve any praise for his years on the job. He said the true joy of his position was being able to explain and convey the work of his colleagues.
"There are times when people would acknowledge me and say, 'You're the guy.' And I would say, 'No, I'm not the guy. I'm a talking head.' The men and women of this department are the people. They're the ones that get it done," he said.