Beds Police chief constable Colette Paul has unexpectedly stood down from her post and will take early retirement.
Ms Paul told colleagues last night of her decision, stating her intent to travel and spend more time with her family.
Deputy chief constable Jon Boutcher will take charge of the force temporarily in Ms Paul’s absence.
In a statement Ms Paul said she wants to take a “different direction in life’s great adventure”.
She said: “I will be getting married this year, will be travelling widely, and I look forward to spending quality time with my family, in particular my two elderly parents, all of whom have been extremely supportive throughout my career.
“I have had the honour and pleasure of working with some outstanding and selfless individuals over the years, in particular in Bedfordshire where the relentless commitment and dedication of the team has never ceased to impress me.”
The chief constable took up her position in July 2013.