Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has accused Sinn Fein of undermining his force with groundless allegations that officers were failing to investigate crime effectively.
In his first major clash with republicans since they agreed to support the PSNI, Sir Hugh hit out at claims by Sinn Fein members that the police had not acted on intelligence ahead of recent violence in Belfast, including the murder of former republican prisoner Frank McGreevy.
At the monthly Policing Board meeting in Belfast, Sir Hugh conceded that his force was not perfect but vehemently denied that his officers were failing to act against crime.
"Broad statements saying my force is not up to it merits a response from me as I believe my force is up to it," he said.
He said Sinn Fein's stance was at best manipulative and at worst anti-police and that he had requested a meeting with Gerry Adams about the matter.
His comments drew an angry response from Sinn Fein, with Alex Maskey demanding a public apology.
He said the suggestion that his party was anti-police was deeply unhelpful in building relationships between the force and republicans.