The killing of police officers and crime and corruption within the police service should be fought at all costs, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega said on Saturday.
The killing of officers robbed the SA Police Service of valuable professionals, she said.
"It creates an enormous skills gap within the police service whose duty is to keep the country safe and secure."
Most of the police officers died while on duty.
Phiyega was speaking at the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union's (Popcru) executive meeting in Pretoria.
The scourge required extraordinary interventions together with communities, NGOs and the business sector.
She called on the police to declare war on corruption and criminality.
"Corruption and criminality within our ranks has raised public concerns. The negative publicity impacts on the image of the country."
Any police officer found guilty of corruption should be dismissed, she said.
Phiyega urged the police to do their work with dedication.
"Your voices should be even louder now in the face of all challenges we are coming across."
She travelled to all provinces visiting provincial police commissioners after she was appointed to head the police two and half months ago.
"I met dedicated and caring officers... but we also need to remove a rotten apple within us whenever we see it."
Corruption was a problem all over the world, but it could be overcome, Phiyega said.