Hailing from West Virginia, Scottsboro Police Department’s Training Officer, Lieutenant Jerry Vance has come a long way, especially when you consider that on December 10, 2020, he’ll be reaching the 30-year mark with SPD.
After graduating from Marshall University with a Computer Science degree, Vance left the coal mines behind in 1990 and came to Scottsboro to live with his aunt and uncle. Being familiar with Scottsboro because of annual family visits, he fell in love with the area. (Namely the fishing.) Growing up with a father who was a coal miner, and having worked in the mines himself, Vance knew and saw the hardships and wanted a different path for his life.
“I had the degree in Computer Science, but I have always been interested in law enforcement, and I always respected it. It was kind of a calling for me.”
Vance told the story of how he’d stop by the SPD at least once a week and trade stories with then Chief Keith Smith and then Assistant Chief Wayne Bynum. One day, an opportunity presented itself, and Vance took it, and the rest is history. Vance began his career on patrol, and in 2000 he was promoted to Sergeant and later became Scottsboro’s first official Traffic Homicide Investigator.
“The best part of being on patrol was treating people how I would want my mother treated. You can’t always do that, but I always tell our new people that it will serve them well to treat people the way they’d want someone to treat their mother. It will carry them a long way.”
Later, in 2010, he was promoted to Lieutenant and took over as Training Officer, a position he still holds today. According to Vance, the best part about being a Training Officer is teaching firearms.
“To see somebody listen and actually learn and benefit from your instruction – they get that ‘aha’ moment, and you can see it when it happens. I enjoy seeing someone benefit from taking instruction, and they are a better officer as a result.”
Interim Chief Ron Latimer stated, “Jerry Vance is a great asset to the city of Scottsboro. He is always available to do anything that is needed, he never complains and always sees things in a positive light. I always hope those traits rub off on the officers he is training.”
This position affords him the duty of coordinating the instruction for the required annual 12-hour training quota that a law enforcement officer must fill with training courses, refreshers and drills. These apply for seasoned officers and for those just starting out. Sometimes a new need arises, and the Chief will generally be the one who recommends a new class to add to the curriculum circuit. Vance will then find the applicable class and/or have a specialist come in and teach the course. Some officers specialize in certain areas of law enforcement, such as wrecks, homicides or drug investigations, and that’s where their career will focus their service. This annual training keeps them at the top of their game in all other aspects of law enforcement as well.
Vance has enjoyed the past 30 years serving Scottsboro and working with the people who have come and gone and those who remain.
Of Vance, retired Police Chief Ralph Dawe stated, “Lt. Jerry Vance is a great officer, supervisor and friend. He is always very observant and willing to carry out any task that is asked of him. I knew he would make a fine officer with integrity when I first met him 30 years ago when he was hired at the SPD.”
As for retirement, Vance doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be with SPD, but with two children approaching college-age, he’s not planning on leaving any time soon.
“I don’t think 30 years of service would have been possible without the support of my family, especially my wife, Lana, and my savior, Jesus Christ.”