FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — James Payne is a man who has faithfully worn two uniforms in Fort Wayne.

“I’m going to miss the guys here,” said Payne while pointing to his fellow referees. “And I’m going to miss my brothers and sisters in law enforcement.”

Fort Wayne Police Department officer and high school sports referee Payne is capping an over 20-year career in Fort Wayne and moving home.

“The people that I’ve met here have prepared me for this adventure,” Payne said.

He’s moving back to his hometown of Murray, Kentucky to further his police career and care for his aging mother.

“I’ve been given an opportunity to progress in my hometown where most of my family is,” Payne said. “My mom is at home and she’s getting a little older. I’ll have an opportunity to be the assistant chief of police initially and move into the chief role.”

Payne was honored in DeKalb while refereeing a game two weeks ago, where he tipped his cap to a standing ovation. The result of shaping the lives of student-athletes for years.

“It’s been wonderful, we’ve been able to touch the lives of several student-athletes, some have even gone on to be professional athletes,” Payne said. “We love the game, we love the kids, and we want everyone to know that’s what we’re all about.”

Even though Friday night’s game between Oak Hill and Southwood ended his career wearing the stripes in Northeast Indiana, he’ll continue to shape lives elsewhere.

“I’m going to officiate in southern Indiana and the western part of Kentucky,” Payne said.