TIFTON — A Tift County resident and Valdosta State University graduate has been promoted to head the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Southwestern Regional Drug Enforcement Office.
Eric Schwalls of Tifton will be responsible for supervision of the unit’s staff and oversee administration of the office, a GBI statement said.
SWRDEO, based in Albany, covers a 42-county area in southwest Georgia.
Schwalls began his law-enforcement career with the GBI in 2001 as a narcotics agent assigned to the State Drug Task Force in Atlanta and the South Georgia Drug Task Force in Lanier County. He was later promoted to special agent and assigned to the GBI Region 4 Field Office in Douglas and the GBI Region 15 Field Office in Sylvester, state officials said in a statement.
While at Region 15, he attended the University of Tennessee’s National Forensic Academy and became a crime scene specialist. In 2016, Schwalls was promoted to the rank of assistant special agent in charge and commander of the Pataula Drug Task Force in Colquitt.
In 2018, Schwalls transferred to the GBI Region 9 Field Office in Thomasville. In 2019, he returned to drug work and filled the position of assistant special agent in charge of the newly created SWRDEO.
Schwalls received a GBI Deputy Director’s Award for investigative excellence in 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. He was was recognized as one of Georgia’s best and brightest by Georgia Trend Magazine as a recipient of the 2011 40 Under 40 award, the statement said.
Schwalls graduated from Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College with an associate of criminal justice degree in 1997, Valdosta State University with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice in 2001 and received his master of public safety administration degree from Columbus State University in 2016. He has been a POST certified instructor since 2007, state officials said.
He is a graduate of the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College at Columbus State University.