HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–“I am proud of the state police department and the local officers and federal officers, they did a lot.”
Lieutenant J. Paul Vance was in charge of media relations during the time of Sandy Hook and has since retired. He says the after action report is much like Monday morning quarterbacking, examining what happened, and trying to learn from mistakes.
“They did the best they could, they saved lives, there is no question in my mind. They saved lives, and from that perspective, I think we should be thankful for the work that was done,” Vance said.
The report is 74 pages long, and looks at the entire incident from the first 9-1-1 call, to the investigation, to the death notifications of families.
“Delays in notification were a great source of frustration for agency personnel at the firehouse CP location and added confusion, frustration, and stress for the family members,” Vance said.
Lt. Vance says the notifications are one of the hardest parts of police work.
“You want to make that death notification as quickly as possible, but accuracy is important, and there are several things you need to do to make sure even though you may know, you want to be exactly sure before you make that knock on the door,” he said.
The report also looked at body armor. The state police currently provides body armor for every trooper, but they are not required to wear it, something they believe needs to be addressed. And they’re also looking at the type of body armor.
“The armor provided to all troopers would not have protected responding personnel from the type of ammunition used at this scene,” Vance said.
The report also looked at trumatic incident counseling and debriefing, something Lieutenant Vance is a firm believer in. Not just for first responders but everyone involved who witnessed that day.
“Terror in peoples eyes who saw the tears, the maintenance people who help clean up, and overheard things, everyone needed to be debriefed. It is so important because this tragedy is indelibly marked in peoples minds and it will never go away. And it needs to be dealt with,” Vance said.
The report is five years in the making, Lt. Vance says it took too long, but he understands because there were changes in command and this was a one-of-a-kind incident.