James Kelson joined the City of Glasgow Police in 1929 and, after three years of beat duties, transferred to the Pay Department at Headquarters. While serving as a Constable, James Kelso graduated as a Batchelor of Law at Glasgow University.
In 1939, he was promoted to Sergeant in the Civil Defence Department, being further promoted to Inspector in 1941. In 1943, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and in 1946 transferred to the Marine Division.
In 1952, he was promoted to Superintendent in the Civil Defence Department and in 1957 was promoted to Chief Superintendent in charge of Maryhill Division.
In 1960, he was transferred to Headquarters as Chief Clerk and was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1961.