DENNIS Gellatly knows the burdens of a life in police uniform all too well.
The new police union boss has seen firsthand the pressures that a life spent fighting crime can bring.
Early on in his 27-year career, Mr Gellatly was involved in a crash during a high-speed pursuit.
The crash had a devastating impact on the young officer, and left him facing a difficult period.
But it was the support of the Australian Federal Police Association that helped get him through.
Mr Gellatly went on to have a highly successful career in the local force, finishing as an acting superintendent, and working in senior roles in almost every area of ACT Policing, including general duties, criminal investigations, traffic, crime prevention, radio communications, human resources, and ministerial support.
Now, Mr Gellatly is ready to use his new role to return the favour to his policing colleagues.
He became chief executive officer of the AFPA late last year.
''I felt a calling and a responsibility to give something back to the people and the organisation,'' Mr Gellatly said.
''I think many of the experiences I've been through, I've been able to contribute in some way to the AFP becoming a better place for its employees,'' he said.
Mr Gellatly, who has been a vice-president with the union for 10 years, takes the reins at a time when the administrative budget of the Australian Federal Police is being cut as part of the federal government's efficiency dividend program.
He has warned the AFP should be exempt from those cuts, which he says would greatly reduce the effectiveness of the agency.
The other major issues on Mr Gellatly's radar are stronger powers for police to investigate unexplained wealth and better laws to prevent assaults against ACT police.
''The AFP needs to be a well-funded, well-resourced, reputable organisation that's also seen as a model employer, and I think it is a very good employer … so I'd like to keep us in that sphere,'' he said.