Veteran and Sheriff’s Deputy plans to stand up for police, veterans in Congress: ‘I want to be the voice of law enforcement’

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WAYNESVILLE, NC – An Army veteran and law enforcement officer has promised to stand strong for veterans, law enforcement, and other emergency responders, if elected to Congress in 2022.

Lieutenant Colonel Eric Batchelor (USA, Ret.) has thrown his hat in the ring for a Congressional seat as a Republican in North Carolina’s 11th district, hoping to unseat incumbent Madison Cawthorn.

A 1995 graduate of North Georgia College, which is now known as the University of North Georgia, Batchelor majored in Criminal Justice and followed his college journey with a distinguished career in the Army for over twenty years.

A veteran of multiple deployments, Batchelor’s honors include “Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Excellence In Competition Badge – Pistol, German Parachutist Badge, French Desert Commando Badge, Legion of Merit Medal (1), Bronze Star Medal (2), Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2), Meritorious Service Medal (3).”

Batchelor told us that his time of service in the Army led to a desire for an opportunity to be closer to the community he served.

He told us:

“I loved, loved, loved being in the Army.  It’s one of those callings that you wake up every day, and you can look yourself in the mirror, and know that the price you pay of being away from your family, of whatever other hardships, you know that it’s worth it.  

“The thing about being in the Army, though, is that you very rarely get to see the people that you feel like you are serving.”

Batchelor continued:

“So I knew that after I retired from the Army that there were other things that I wanted to do, and I really had this desire to do something at a local level, where you got to see people that you are serving, and where you got to interact with them and have conversations with them.

“It’s a little bit different of a feeling in how you serve at the local level and how you serve in the military at that federal level.”

Veteran and Sheriff's Deputy plans to stand up for police, veterans in Congress: 'I want to be the voice of law enforcement'
Eric Batchelor, photo courtesy of Eric Batchelor for Congress

As a result of this desire to serve and be close to his community, Batchelor chose to become a paramedic, and then followed that time of service with a position as Deputy Sheriff for the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office.

He told us:

“It felt like the right thing to do.  It was, again, service, that higher calling feeling of being able to look yourself in the mirror every night before you go to bed.

“You get to talk to people, you get to see the people that you serve on a daily basis.”

This desire to serve, Batchelor added, is widespread and typical among those in law enforcement, a fact that he wishes persons trying to defund the police would grasp.

He told us:

“I wish we could communicate that story to all the people that are vocalizing defund the police and those sorts of things right now, because 99.99 percent of us, we do it out of service….

“To the defund the police crowd, I have to say, look, people don’t do this for the money, they don’t do it for the fame, they don’t do it for any of that.  They do it because they are passionate about it.

“That’s what I wish I could communicate to people across the country right now.”

It was early on during Batchelor’s service in law enforcement that he made the decision to run for Congress, well ahead of his previous plans.

Batchelor had had an eye for a political career since his time in the Army, when he considered the importance of policy makers’ having practical military experience when crafting policy that related to military service and foreign relations.

He said:

“I decided, you know, one day if I ever get the chance to serve as a politician, to be able to be a voice for the military when somebody says, ‘We’re gonna make ‘X’ a priority,’ to be somebody that can raise a hand and go, ‘OK, what do we mean by that?  What is this – what are we really asking them to do?’”

In addition, a strong work ethic also led him a career in politics.  Batchelor told us:

“I am tired of watching show horses in Congress.

“I want to see work horses in Congress.”

Veteran and Sheriff's Deputy plans to stand up for police, veterans in Congress: 'I want to be the voice of law enforcement'
Eric Batchelor, photo courtesy of Eric Batchelor for Congress

Batchelor’s original plan was to serve in law enforcement for 10 to 15 years before embarking on a career in politics, but a line-of-duty shooting in 2020 changed that.

A suspect wielding an AR-15 shot Batchelor in the left arm, shattering his humerus. 

Batchelor required extensive surgeries and lengthy rehabilitation, and he was kept out of work for nearly a year.  It was during this time that, after much reflection and “soul-searching,” he decided on his run for a Congressional seat.

In his plans for Congress, Batchelor has strongly expressed a desire to stand up for veterans and emergency responders.

On the first page of his campaign website, he leaves no doubt on this, writing:

“I want to be a voice for the people of the 11th district, including our veterans, law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS.”

For veterans, Batchelor has specific plans to facilitate events in which he would link “veterans with specific capabilities within the VA” and other veteran services organizations together with veterans in need of connections and assistance, such as help with the GI Bill. 

These connections, he added, will especially help veterans in remote areas of North Carolina who lack good access to VA services.

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In addition, Batchelor plans to have a go-to person on staff with a background of working with the VA and veterans, who will work one-on-one to connect veterans with the resources they need.

He told us:

“It’s hard to make that transition [from military service to civilian life], and it would be really nice to have just a little more guidance, a little more help, somebody that can just point them in the right direction.”

As for supporting for law enforcement, Batchelor plans to stand up for funding the police:

“When I talk about law enforcement, what I really try to reiterate with people is, when we start talking about defunding the police, absolutely not.

“We can’t look at emergency services as, let’s get the best deal for our money that we can….

“We’ve got to make sure that we provide the funds to train law enforcement and to hire the best people to law enforcement….

“I think if we could do those two things we would only increase the professionalism of our law enforcement agencies across the board.”

In a call for additional resources besides police to work with mental health issues, Batchelor added:

 “We need to get law enforcement out of the business of being involved in mental health issues, when we can.  We’re not trained for it, we’re not manned for it, we’re not equipped for it.

“When we have somebody that’s having a non-violent mental health issue, I’m all about having law enforcement available, but maybe a paramedic with a social worker, not in uniform, not carrying a gun, can keep a situation defused and keep it civil without us being involved in it.”

Veteran and Sheriff's Deputy plans to stand up for police, veterans in Congress: 'I want to be the voice of law enforcement'
Eric Batchelor, photo courtesy of Eric Batchelor for Congress

Citing another example, the opioid crisis, Batchelor pointed out that police efforts were best spent on doing the job of arresting “criminals who were involved in drug trafficking,” rather than spending time on “how do we get people into programs, how do we get people into the hospital.”

He added:

“I want to focus on law enforcement doing law enforcement jobs.”

For EMS and Fire, Batchelor has his sights set on keeping emergency responders safer.  Citing recent examples of emergency responders being targeted by gunfire, and killed, Batchelor pointed out the lack of grant programs for bulletproof vests for EMS and Fire.

Batchelor plans on working on grants to allow agencies to provide their emergency responders with ballistic protection, such as soft body armor that can be worn under a uniform.

In addition, Batchelor plans to help agencies cut through red tape standing in the way of acquiring necessary emergency equipment, especially for smaller services in more remote areas.

For fire departments specifically, Batchelor plans to address long-term healthcare needs of firefighters, who are frequently exposed to, and are becoming sick from, harmful agents in fires.

Improved equipment, he added, would help in this matter:

“I think we owe it to them to put more money towards R&D to try to get them better equipment to keep them protected.

“Because it will save us money in the long run when you start talking about the health issues that go along with it.

“We also owe it to them to take care of them in the longer term when this turns into health care issues.”

In conclusion, Batchelor shared with us an additional declaration of his intent to support law enforcement while in Congress, saying:

“To law enforcement officers out there, I absolutely, positively would have your back at every opportunity when it comes to federal legislation.

“We will not defund the police in its most severe form if I am there.  

“I want to be the voice of law enforcement when Congress starts talking about limiting qualified immunity or something else that’s important to us as law enforcement officers.  

“I want to, and I will be, a voice of reason to that.”

Batchelor also added a heartfelt thank you to his fellow law enforcement officers, saying:

“To all law enforcement officers that may read this, thanks for your service, especially in this extremely tough time that we are serving in right now.” 

The primary is expected to be held in March of 2022.  You can follow Eric Batchelor’s campaign progress and make donations at his website, Eric Batchelor for Congress.

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