When it comes to tracking counterfeit cash used at local businesses, Cpl. Jane Edenfield of the Columbus Police Department has searched for suspects from the Atlanta area to Chattahoochee County.
The department recognized Edenfield, 30, as the March Officer of the Month for her efforts in nabbing a string of suspects.
The eight-year veteran, assigned to the Financial Crimes Unit, said it feels good to be recognized, but she pointed to a team of experienced detectives willing to help.
"I'm the primary officer on all the counterfeits," she said. "I wouldn't be able to do what I did without the help from the unit."
Last summer, Edenfield jumped at the chance to investigate counterfeit money after the detective assigned to that task retired.
"I did an internship with the Secret Service when I was in college in Savannah," she said of the federal law enforcement agency that also protects the president. "When I got to the unit I told them that and they said great. You can do counterfeit money."
Edenfield uses a local database and one used by the Secret Service to track serial numbers on counterfeit money. She recently tracked fake $100 bills to a suspect accused in several cases in Atlanta.
At the Walmart on Gateway Road in Midland, two men often used counterfeit $20 bills at the store. The men used fake money to pay for two electronic items valued at $600. They returned one of the items, collected real cash and attempted to buy more items with counterfeit money. Their arrests led to 39 counts of first-degree forgery.
One of the suspects, Christopher Gilliam, was later charged in connection with a fatal shooting on Calvin Avenue.
Three months ago, Edenfield was able to identify a woman who was suspected of passing counterfeit bills between Atlanta and Chattahoochee County. Two days after the woman was arrested, local police learned that she may be wanted in Newnan and and Hogansville as well as Troup County on similar cases.
Edenfield works with local Secret Service Agent Teresa Hudson to send some cases to federal court, where penalties are stiffer for using counterfeit money.
"In a lot of these financial crimes, they don't spend a whole lot of time in jail," she said. "If they steal money, they can't pay the money back if they are in jail."
When asked if she will remain in law enforcement, Edenfield said it feels like she belongs, working in the field and connecting with others.
"When you are able to work good cases and do things like that, you just feel like you belong," she said. "I would like to always be involved in law enforcement wherever that takes me."