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Finally, a Happy Ending

Memphis police officer receives promotion and pay increase.

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Almost 16 years had to pass before Memphis police officer Cham Payne received his promotion from patrolman to sergeant.

City officials, including Mayor Willie Herenton and city attorney Robert Spence, approved Payne's promotion, which stemmed from a 1988 incident in which the policeman passed a promotion test but was denied the advancement.

"I'm satisfied," said Payne. "It was an oversight on the city's part that they corrected. Thanks to the mayor, [Memphis Police Department] Director Bolden, and especially to city councilwoman [Barbara Swearengen] Holt. The city did the right thing morally, and I'm very happy with the final agreement."

Payne had previously asked for "the same good-faith effort" years after four other officers who had taken the same test filed a lawsuit against the city in 1992 and were rewarded their rightful positions. At that time, Payne was unaware of the test oversight.

Payne said the city never admitted to any problems administering the test, and officials were under no legal obligation to correct the error, with the issue expiring under statute-of-limitation guidelines. The promotion gives the officer an additional $4,300 each year.

To make the reward even sweeter, Payne will receive a promotion for 30 years of service in June. With that distinction comes the new title of captain and an annual pay increase of about $15,000.

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