John Orr was a native of Fisherton, Ayrshire, and after leaving school, he worked in a lawyer’s office in Ayr. In 1975 he joined the City of Glasgow Police and was appointed as Clerk in the Detective Department.
In 1878, he was promoted to Lieutenant in ‘F’ (St Rollox) Division and after five years was appointed Chief of the Detective Department in 1883. In 1888, on the death of Chief Constable McCall, Mr Orr succeeded Chief Constable John Boyd as Superintendent of the Central District.
In 1902, when Chief Constable Boyd retired, Superintendent Orr acted as Interim Chief Constable for three months until the appointment of the new Chief Constable, James V. Stevenson.
On the appointment of Chief Constable Stevenson, he created the rank of Chief Superintendent specially for Mr. Orr and designated him Deputy Chief Constable.
In 1910 he was awarded the new King’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service, the first and only Glasgow Police officer to receive the award from King Edward VII, who died a few months later in May 1910.