Search for Canberra's next top cop starts
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Search for Canberra's next top cop starts

The search for Canberra's next top cop has already started after Justine Saunders quit her role as ACT chief police officer.

Assistant Commissioner Saunders announced she had accepted a job as a deputy commissioner support for the Australian Border Force, starting in late October.

The timing means the Australian Federal Police have two months to identify and appoint a successor.

Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the process to find a new police chief had begun.

"Once a replacement has been determined I will make a recommendation to the ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services," Commissioner Colvin said.

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"The Minister and I shall make an announcement once this process has been completed."

ACT's Chief policing officer Justine Saunders.

ACT's Chief policing officer Justine Saunders.Credit:Karleen Minney

Commissioner Colvin said "acting arrangements will be put in place" if the recruitment process had not been completed before Assistant Commissioner Saunders' departure.

Assistant Commissioner Saunders took on the job in August 2016, upon the retirement of predecessor Rudi Lammers.

She joined the AFP in 1989, starting her career in ACT Policing general duties.

During her 29 years with the force, she held positions in policy and governance, protection and chief of staff.

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She represented Australia at the United Nations, advising on policing matters, and headed up the AFP's operations, with responsibility for areas like transnational crime, drug importations, people smuggling, and fraud.

In her two years as police chief, she sought to increase community engagement on policing matters, began the process of reforming the future of ACT Policing, and cracked down on the criminal activities of outlaw motor cycle gangs through the formation of Taskforce Nemesis.

In her new role, Assistant Commissioner Saunders will join Mandy Newton as a deputy commissioner for the Australian Border Force under the command of commissioner Michael Outram.

Ms Newton, the current deputy commissioner support, will shift into the role of deputy commissioner operations taking over from Clive Murray on September 3.

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Assistant Commissioner Saunders will then fill the resulting vacancy of deputy commissioner support from October 29.

Commissioner Colvin praised Assistant Commissioner Saunders for her "highly successful career with the AFP".

"Justine's experience and capabilities as a senior member of the AFP executive will be greatly missed and although she leaves the AFP, Justine will continue her contribution to law enforcement in the ABF and I look forward to working closely with her in the future," he said.