Detective Eric Walton of the UCF Police Department was recognized Thursday by the U.S. Secret Service as one of the top 50 law enforcement graduates of the agency’s 2020 National Computer Forensics Institute program.
Walton ranked 19th out of 1,747 officers who completed the program that teaches digital forensic-examination techniques to carry out investigations on computers, network storage systems, cellphones and other devices.
“I always had a love of technology from an early age,” says Walton, who began working at the department as a dispatcher in 1991.
In 1995 he received a scholarship from UCF that allowed him to go to the police academy, and in 1996 he was assigned to the patrol division. Two years later he became a field training officer.
‘I realize that criminals are using computers to engage in crime and that law enforcement will have to learn how to handle electronic evidence.’
Then in 2000 his career took a turn when one of the department investigators asked his advice on a hacking case. Soon after, he began studying forensics.
“I realize that criminals are using computers to engage in crime and that law enforcement will have to learn how to handle electronic evidence,” he says.
In 2004 he was assigned to the UCFPD criminal investigation division, where he was the forensic investigator assigned to cases in which technology was used either as a tool (to hack a network or make an unauthorized access to an account) or a weapon (to make threats).
Last year he became part of the Secret Service’s Electronic Crime Task Force, helping state and local law enforcement agencies process electronic evidence.
“I have had the honor to work on everything from homicide to skimmer cases,” he says.
He also completed more than 600 forensic examinations last year and was ranked No. 3 in the nation.
“I am proud to represent UCF and the police department to law enforcement agencies across the nation,” he says.
Walton was honored Thursday in Titusville when he was presented his new award by Caroline O’Brien, the Secret Service’s Orlando special agent in charge.
“Detective Walton is one of the foremost experts on digital forensics in the United States and his efforts as part of the Secret Service Task Force have undoubtedly made Central Florida a safer place,” says Police Chief Carl Metzger. “The UCF Police Department is grateful that the U.S. Secret Service has recognized Detective Walton for his professionalism, expertise and hard work.”