The Toronto Police Service (TPS) is the police force servicing Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Established in 1834, it was the first municipal police service created in North America and one of the oldest police services in the English-speaking world. It is the largest municipal police service in Canada and third largest police force in Canada after the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
As for serious criminal investigations, the Toronto Police frequently (but not always) contracted with private investigators from the Pinkerton’s Detective Agency until the 20th century when it developed its own internal investigation and intelligence capacity.
During the 1930s and 1940s, the Toronto Police under Chief Constable Dennis “Deny” Draper, a retired Brigadier General and former Conservative candidate, returned to its function as an agency to suppress political dissent. Its notorious “Red Squad” brutally dispersed demonstrations by labour unions and by unemployed and homeless people during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Suspicious of “foreigners”, the police lobbied the city of Toronto to pass legislation banning public speeches in languages other than English, curtailing union organization among Toronto’s vast immigrant populations working in sweat shops.
After several scandals, including a call by Chief Draper to have reporters “shot” and his being arrested driving drunk, the city appointed in 1948 a new Police Chief from its own ranks for the first time in the department’s history: John Chisholm, a very able senior police inspector. In 1955, the Metropolitan Toronto Board of Police Commissioners was formed in preparation for the amalgamation of the 13 police forces in the municipality, Metropolitan Toronto, into a unified police force with Chisholm as chief of the unified force. Unfortunately, Chisholm was not up to the politics of the Chief’s office, especially in facing off with Fred “Big Daddy” Gardiner, who engineered almost single-handedly the formation of Metropolitan Toronto in the 1950s.
On January 1, 1957, the Toronto Police merged with the other municipal forces in the metropolitan area to form the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force: With amalgamation, the force grew in size and complexity, and Chisholm found himself unable to manage the huge agency and its Byzantine politics. In 1958, after a number of conflicts with Gardiner and members of the newly expanded Metropolitan Toronto Board of Police Commissioners, Chief Chisholm drove to High Park on the city’s west end, parked his car and committed suicide with his service revolver. The late Staff Superintendent Jack Webster, one of the officers who arrived at the scene of the Chief’s death and who would upon his retirement in the 1990s become the Force Historian at the Toronto Police Museum, would later write, “Suicide is a constant partner in every police car.”
In 1990, the Board of Police Commissioners was renamed as the The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Police Services Board, and, upon the creation of the amalgamated City of Toronto in 1998, it became the Toronto Police Services Board, administering the Toronto Police Force.