Kennedy, Sir Albert Henry (1906–91), inspector-general of the RUC, was born 11 February 1906 in Belfast, the son of Joseph Kennedy, RIC (and later RUC) detective sergeant, and his wife Catherine. After working as a library assistant on leaving school, he joined the RUC on 17 October 1924. Following his initial training he was posted to Ballynafeigh police station in Belfast and promoted sergeant on 30 April 1930. After further postings to Gulladuff station in Co. Londonderry and Coleraine, he was promoted head constable on 19 June 1933. In May 1936 he was promoted district inspector, aged only thirty, and served at Lisnaskea station in Co. Fermanagh before transferring to ‘F’ District in Belfast in December 1936. He remained in Belfast during the second world war, serving in the detective branch (1940–45). In 1945 he moved to the crime branch and successfully investigated several murder cases. Awarded the King's Police Medal in 1947, he was promoted acting county inspector in February 1951. In March 1954 he was appointed deputy commissioner, becoming second in command of policing in Belfast. Three years later (March 1957), he was appointed deputy inspector-general, in effect second in command of the RUC.
Later in the same year, Kennedy was the focus of a bizarre murder attempt: on 25 September 1957 a bomb attached to his car partially exploded while he was driving in University Street, Belfast; Kennedy and his passenger escaped unhurt. The bomb was initially blamed on the IRA but was in fact the work of an RUC district inspector, Malcolm Crawford, the son of Colonel Frederick Hugh Crawford (qv). Crawford, convinced that he had been unfairly passed over for promotion, had previously tried to kill the inspector-general of the RUC, Sir Richard Pim (qv), on two occasions. After a complex investigation Crawford resigned in January 1958.
In January 1961 Kennedy succeeded Pim as inspector-general. This was the first occasion on which someone who had joined as a constable had risen to command the force. His early years as inspector-general were helped by the announcement of an IRA cease-fire in February 1962. He travelled to Britain, Canada, and the USA to study their policing methods and oversaw the modernisation of the force in the early 1960s. Renowned as a ‘copper's copper’, when created a knight bachelor in June 1965 he granted all RUC officers an extra day's leave stating that ‘it was their loyalty and co-operation which enabled him to be in a position to receive the honour’ (Ryder, 94). He was the prime mover in the re-organisation of the force in 1967 which greatly improved the working conditions of RUC officers and he also oversaw the introduction of a juvenile caution scheme for first offenders. The end of his career was overshadowed by increased political violence. He resigned in January 1969. Remaining active after his retirement, he became president of Securicor (Ulster) Ltd. He died 11 October 1991.
Kennedy married three times: in 1931 to Elizabeth Freeborn and in 1945 to Muriel Lucile Hamilton (both predeceased him); he was survived by his third wife, Edythe Kennedy.