LAW and ORDER in the Pioneering Days of NSW.
William John MacKAY Commissioner of Police
24th March, 1935 – 22nd January, 1948
William John MacKay was born at Glasgow, Scotland, on the 28th November, 1885, and joined the New South Wales Police Force on the 9th June, 1910. He performed uniform duty at several city stations and was then appointed Chief Clerk in the office of the Metropolitan Superintendent. A competent shorthand-writer, Mr. Mackay attended the Sydney Domain in 1927, making notations in connection with a series of disturbances created by the I.W.W. organisation. His great ability earned him rapid promotion. He was promoted to Sergeant 1st Class after ten years service, and on the 10th April, 1923, was transferred to No.1 Division as Detective Sergeant-in-Charge. On the 11th June, 1927, Mr. Mackay was transferred to Darlinghurst as Inspector-in-Charge, and on the 20th January, 1928, made Superintendent-in-Charge of the Detective Branch.
In 1929, Mr. Mackay visited America, England, and Europe, and returned with many new ideas and general reforms, resulting in the total re-organisation of the Detective Branch, which was renamed the Criminal Investigation Branch. In the troublesome days of the 1931-32 era Mr. Mackay directed operations in suppressing disruptive organisations, including the New Guard Movement which appeared to be developing on totalitarian lines and menacing public peace. On 30th March, 1932, he was promoted to the office of Metropolitan Superintendent, and appointed successor to Mr. Childs, as Commissioner of Police, on the 24th March, 1935. During the conflict of World War 11 Mr. Mackay, in 1942, assisted the Commonwealth Government in organising the Commonwealth Security Service to effectively control espionage and subversive organisations.
During his distinguished career, Mr. Mackay introduced many new sections into the Police Force generally, particularly in the sphere of criminal investigation activities. He introduced the system of Police Cadets, Shorthand Instructional Classes, Special Squads to handle particular types of offences, the Police Rescue Squad, and Parking Police, veterans from World War II, to assist in traffic parking duties. He also founded the Police Citizens Boy’s Club movement, to assist under-privileged youth resident in Sydney’s industrial. This last work is considered his finest achievement and a lasting monument to a Police Commissioner of great initiative, progressive instincts, humanitarian ideals and deep foresight. He died on the 22nd January, 1948, whilst still in office.