Harold Adamson (police officer)

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Harold Adamson
Chief of the Metropolitan Toronto Police
In office
Preceded by James Page Mackey
Succeeded by Jack Ackroyd
Personal details
Born 1921
Scarborough, Ontario
Died 2001
Toronto, Ontario
Nationality Canadian

Harold Adamson (1921–2001) was Chief of the Metropolitan Toronto Police in the 1970s and served as a police officer for 41 years until his retirement in 1980.[1]

Adamson's first foray into law enforcement was at the age of 18 when he came across a burglar in his home and hit him with his lunch bucket. He joined the Scarborough Police Department the next year.[1]

In 1953, he came to public attention when, as a police inspector, he investigated the disappearance of Scarborough teenager Marion McDowell and organized what was then the largest manhunt in Toronto history for the missing girl. The case was never solved.[1]

By 1956, Adamson was deputy chief of the department which was amalgamated with other Toronto area police forces to become the Metropolitan Toronto Police in 1957. In 1970 he became the new force's third chief.[1] with the retirement of James Page Mackey.

The police force in the 1970s had to cope with a growing population, rising crime rate, and declining respect for authority. The Toronto Police faced public anger and charges of racism following the fatal shooting of Albert Johnson by a police officer in 1979. A royal commission under Justice Donald Morand investigated the police during his tenure and found acts of police brutality and police officers giving false testimony under oath.[1]

Mel Lastman, mayor of the Metropolitan Toronto borough of North York in the 1970s said that Adamson responded to complaints and "outlawed displays of bigotry on the force, instituted new procedures following the Morand report into allegations of police brutality and commissioned the Hickling Johnson Report on adapting to the future." Adamson also pushed to recruit more ethnic minorities to the police force and oversaw changes such as improving officer training, and expanding work among youth and in crime prevention.[1]

Of being police chief, Adamson once said, "this is a job that will never give you a swelled head. I didn't accept it with any great degree of relish. It was very nice to be made chief of police, but I certainly knew I wasn't in for any picnic."[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "ADAMSON: Harold, 80: Ex-chief earned officers' respect: Chief presided over reforms but stood by police", Toronto Star, February 7, 2001