New Chief Police Officer and ESA Deputy Commissioner to keep Canberra safe

Chief Police Officer for the ACT (CPO) Ray Johnson APM is stepping in to a newly created role as Deputy Commissioner of the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan APM has been appointed as the new ACT CPO.

Minister for Police and Emergency Service Mick Gentleman said the community has been impacted by many emergencies this year and our dedicated leaders have successfully guided Canberrans through the response and recovery.

“These two appointments will continue our efforts to keep Canberra’s community safe, protected and supported,” Minister Gentleman said.

New ESA Deputy Commissioner to review ACT’s 2019-20 bushfire response

“The ESA has gained a great asset in Ray Johnson,” Minister Gentleman said.

“During his time as Chief Police Officer he has been unwavering in his commitment to keeping our community safe, which we have seen most recently this year during the bushfires and COVID-19 response.

“The new ESA Deputy Commissioner will lead the review of the 2019-20 bushfire season as well as lead ESA’s enabling services including People and Culture.

“The role will support the ESA Commissioner, and work collaboratively across the ACT Government and with community partners. In addition, the Deputy Commissioner will be responsible for ESA capability and ensuring members of the emergency services and volunteers are properly equipped, trained and prepared for their work protecting the community.”

Assistant Commissioner Johnson will begin at the ESA on 18 May.

Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan APM appointed Chief Police Officer for the ACT

“I am very pleased to welcome Deputy Commissioner Gaughan into the role of ACT Chief Police Officer. I know his experience across local, national and international policing issues will be of great value to the service and the wider Canberra community,” Minister Gentleman said.

“Restructuring the Chief Police Officer position to the Deputy Commissioner level will help drive the implementation of the Police Services Model and will continue the great work ACT Policing does to keep the Canberra community safe.”

Deputy Commissioner Gaughan will start in the role on 18 May.

As stated by AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said Deputy Commissioner Gaughan had the right combination of skills and experience to ensure ACT Policing continues to provide excellent service to the Canberra community.

“The appointment of Deputy Commissioner Gaughan, one of our most senior and experienced officers, is recognition of the importance of the role of Chief Police Officer to the ACT Community, and I echo the Minister in welcoming him to the role,” Commissioner Kershaw said.

“I would also like to acknowledge and thank Assistant Commissioner Johnson for his dedicated service to the AFP and Canberra community. I wish him the very best in his new role at the ESA.”

As stated by AFP Deputy Commissioner Gaughan APM

AFP Deputy Commissioner Gaughan said he was pleased to be taking on the role of Chief Police Officer and leading ACT Policing’s COVID-19 response in the coming months.

“I feel very privileged to return to community policing at a time of change as ACT Policing modernises its service and tackles crime more proactively as part of the Police Services Model,” Deputy Commissioner Gaughan said.

“After spending half my AFP career with ACT Policing in general duties and investigative roles, I am focused on working with government and community partners to continue to address recidivist offending and the impact of road trauma.

“I look forward to building on the work of Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson and his predecessors, ensuring ACT Policing continues to meet the challenges of the future and the needs of the Canberra community.”

As stated by ACT Emergency Services Agency Georgeina Whelan

Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said the review of the 2019-20 bushfire season would evaluate the effectiveness of ESA’s operational response as well as recommend opportunities and strategies to prepare for and respond to emergencies in the futures.

“I’m very excited about the appointment of Ray Johnson to the position of ESA Deputy Commissioner,” Commissioner Whelan said.

“Ray and I worked closely during the 2019-20 bushfire season; and I know we will make a great team.

“Together, we have a strong focus on enhancing mental health and wellbeing, and we will continue to seek improvements for our people while running an operational agency.

“His appointment will be the injection of leadership that ESA needs to continue our journey of reform for a modernised ESA, and a safer Canberra.”

As stated by AFP Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson APM

Chief Police Officer for the ACT Ray Johnson said he was honoured to have the opportunity to continue to serve Canberra’s community in the new role.

“As the Chief Police Officer I made a commitment to serve the Canberra community and I see this role as an opportunity to continue that service for our community.

“My commitment has always been to building a safer community and supporting people in their time of need. This year alone has proven to be a challenge for us all when considering the bushfires, storms and COVID-19.

“Choosing to leave the AFP after 35 years’ service has been a difficult and deeply personal decision and I will miss the dedicated people who do such a great job. However, I am looking forward to bringing my experience in emergency management to the ESA whilst I also continue to learn from the great people in ESA.”

Deputy Commissioner Gaughan bio

Deputy Commissioner Gaughan had a distinguished career with the AFP which spans more than 30 years. He has extensive operational experience in general policing and investigative roles in ACT Policing (1984 to 1999) and later moved to AFP National Operations.

Since 2018, Deputy Commissioner Gaughan has led the AFP’s response to serious and organised criminal networks, economic and serious crimes, cybercrime, human exploitation. He has also managed the AFP’s international engagement.

Deputy Commissioner Gaughan has been involved in the development of contemporary Australian counter terrorism policy and contributed to national countering violent extremism strategies.

In 2017, as Assistant Commissioner of the Organised Crime portfolio of the AFP, Deputy Commissioner Gaughan championed new approaches to disrupting, dismantling and combatting serious and organised crime with a focus on strengthening partnerships across government and industry.

Deputy Commissioner Gaughan was awarded the Australian Police Medal in 2011.

Assistant Commissioner Johnson bio

Assistant Commissioner Johnson has 35 years of experience across local, national and international policing. He joined the AFP in 1985, starting his policing career in Canberra where he undertook both community policing and detective duties before moving to AFP National, investigating serious and organised crime at a local and national level.

More recently lead a program of cultural reform and improved staff wellbeing support that included significant professional standards, diversity and inclusion reforms for the AFP.

Assistant Commissioner Johnson has also undertaken international missions in East Timor, Cyprus and China. Over his 35-year career, he has gained extensive experience in leading operations and managing the response to emergencies, both in the ACT and internationally.

As the Chief Police Officer, Assistant Commissioner Johnson has worked closely with the ACT Government and ESA to enhance the Canberra’s emergency preparedness and response to significant events.

Assistant Commissioner Johnson was awarded group citation for bravery in 2001 and the Australian Police Medal in 2013.

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