COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Columbus County Sheriff Chris Batten plans to step down from office in early January to take a job with the state.
Batten sent out a news release Thursday evening saying that he has accepted a position as a field representative for the North Carolina Sheriff's Education Training and Standards. His last day in office is January 7. Batten has served Columbus County as sheriff since 2002.
"It has been an absolute dream to work for the citizens of Columbus County," Batten said in an emailed release. "My time as Sheriff has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. I have met people from all over the County and tried my best to help those that were seeking assistance within the law. I would like to thank all of the citizens of Columbus County for their dedication to my service and for the many prayers that have gone out that have given comfort to each and every member of the Sheriff's Office during my tenure."
Friday Batten who's up for reelection next year says, he was planning to run for sheriff again, until his new job caught his eye in September. Batten is taking a pay cut, but will have the opportunity to work from home. He says, it will allow him to spend more time with his family.
He tells us, he's proud of the tireless efforts deputies have put into drug arrests and how far the department has come regarding technology. But he prides himself on literally being a sheriff for the people.
"I've got 1600 contacts in my phone. Of people that I have basically come in contact with. I've got their contact information they have mine. I get calls daily day to day every week," said Batten.
According to Batten, he's recommending Lewis Hatcher replace him because Hatcher has experience, integrity, professionalism, and is liked by many people.
Joey Ray the chairman for the Columbus County Democratic Party says, he doesn't believe there's a better candidate to appoint other than Hatcher. Ray says, the party will have a special called meeting in the new year where they will discuss who they should appoint.