In the wake of the Bourke Street rampage, prison breakouts and a youth crime wave, Victoria's police have been under scrutiny for being "risk averse".
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton says it's a myth that police are anything but tough on crime and his officers put themselves in harm's way
"There's a bit of a myth around that the fact that we're somehow soft on crime. Nothing could be further from the truth," he told reporters in Melbourne.
"People can talk about being hard, people like to think they're hard and tough, the fact is we have been hard, we have been tough and we've been consistently like that since I've been in this role."
Ashton said the state is dealing with unprecedented issues with violent youth crime, which he says are more complex than ever before.
Youth offenders are also being charged with serious crimes for their first offence - which in the past traditionally wasn't the case, he added.
His comments come after a group of Victoria's former top cops said the state had lost its grip on law and order and police were soft.
Former chief commissioner Kel Glare, who ran the force from 1987-92, has joined with other former police chiefs to slam the state's response to the law and order "crisis".
Glare's group, called the Community Advocacy Alliance, says modern policing is clearly not working.
"We're being dismissed as dinosaurs that don't understand modern policing. But modern policing has got us to this point," Glare told 3AW on Sunday.
The group says policing has become "risk averse" and chases need to happen.
"In my view, in most instances, you have to chase," Glare told 3AW on Sunday.
"There will be accidents and the community and the police will just have to accept that."
Glare also says the Andrews government's new night courts won't work as, in many cases, it's the magistrates who make the "bad bail decisions".
The CAA has a 70-point plan, advocating for a police education programme to be reintroduced to schools, police cars beefed up with nudge bars and a re- evaluation of juvenile offenders.
"The crime rate in all the other states is going down and Victoria is going up - and most of that is being led by this rash of juvenile offending," Glare said.
"These are young people but they're hardly juveniles and the definition of child needs to be amended."
The state announced a police recruitment drive on Sunday that will bring an extra 3000 frontline police onto the state's streets.