D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced Tuesday that she will resign next month to take over as head of security for the National Football League, ending her 26-year career on the force, the last decade as its first permanent female leader.

The 49-year-old, who rose from the patrol ranks, had an unusually long tenure heading a major police force. She said the unique job opportunity in professional sports prompted her decision. Her latest contract was up in January.

“She’s built a fantastic force, professionalized the force, built a force that the community trusts which is going to be a lasting legacy,” Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said in an interview with the Washington Post.