Tom Payne began his full time career in public service more than thirty seven years ago when he was appointed a Deputy Sheriff with the Harrison County Sheriff's Department. In the summer of 1977,prior to his appointment as deputy, Tom studied with the London Metropolitan police. He received classroom instruction at the University of London and field experience with some of the finest forensic scientists and police investigators in the world. After his return from London Tom was appointed a patrol deputy with the Harrison County Sheriff’s department. At that time, the youngest deputy assigned to Patrol, Tom quickly learned the realities of law enforcement in the streets. During his tenure as a patrol deputy, Tom pursued and completed his Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from U.S.M., Gulf Coast.
In 1980, Tom was appointed an Agent with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and served in an undercover capacity for two and half years. Tom left the Bureau of Narcotics to serve as an Investigator for District Attorney, Mike Moore. When Mike Moore became Attorney General, Tom headed the Attorney General's transition team. In January of 1988, he was appointed the first Director of the newly created Public Advocacy Division of the State Attorney General's office. He later served as Chief Counsel with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics a division of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Tom left his position of Chief Counsel when he was appointed a Federal Prosecutor in the Southern District of Mississippi serving in the Criminal Division on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Tom successfully prosecuted a diverse range of criminal cases including Arson for profit, Organized Crime Drug trafficking, violent crimes and major fraud cases. Assistant U.S. Attorney Payne also handled numerous appeal cases on behalf of the Government, writing briefs for each case and on several occasions appearing before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana. Having distinguished himself among his peers he received a Special Achievement award from Janet Reno the then Attorney General of the United States. Tom left his position at the United States Attorney’s office when he was selected to coordinate the Criminal Justice program at all Gulf Coast campuses for the University of Southern Mississippi.
In 2002 Dr. Payne was awarded Tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. Tom has lectured, conducted research and written extensively in areas relating to civil liberties and criminal justice; including law enforcement training, private security, criminal prosecution and workplace violence. In June 2007, Tom was invited to participate in a series of lectures at the University of Stockholm, Sweden. In 2008, Tom presented his national research on Police Discourtesy and Youth Violence at the European Society of Criminology Edinburgh, Scotland. In addition, Dr. Payne has consulted with private companies, local, state and national law enforcement agencies. In 2011 Dr. Payne worked with the City of Houston, Texas police department. Dr. Payne has also acted as a consultant and on air commentator in a Discovery Channel documentary on the Dixie Mafia which aired nationally in January, 2013. Professor Payne retired from USM in 2012. Since retiring Tom has operated a private law practice and acts as a consultant and expert witness in the criminal justice and security field. Tom holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi in Adult Education with an emphasis in Criminal Justice and a Jurist Doctorate in Law from the University of Mississippi and he attained special certification in the fields of security and terrorism.