Norfolk Police is set to be become the first force in Britain to scrap all of its community support officers amid falling budgets.
The constabulary is proposing to axe 150 PCSOs, which it said have "limitations" as they are "not permitted to arrest, process or interview prisoners".
Chief Constable Simon Bailey said that the average annual cost of PCSOs compared to frontline officers is "no longer significantly different".
The force said it would save around £1.6million by removing the PCSOs and proposes to appoint another 81 officers and 16 staff members.
Mr Bailey said that the "radical" plans "come at a critical time" as the services faces "unparalleled growth in complex crime together with reduced policing budgets".
Criminals and those who seek to harm the public will be the only ones celebrating
Chris Jenkinson, Unison
He added: “I’ve always been clear that meeting this challenge would be a turning point for the police service and that we would have to change the way we work in order to meet rising demand.
“The plans announced today, I believe, will deliver the most responsive police service for Norfolk, meeting the needs of our communities while protecting the most vulnerable people in our society."
Seven front-counter services and seven police stations would also be shut under the proposals. Mr Bailey said the force had seen a big increase in serious crimes such as "rape, sexual offences, adult and child abuse, indecent images, drugs and serious violence as well as cyber crime".
He added that they are "high risk, high harm" cases and require "a workforce that is able to deal with that".
Referring to the differences between PCSOs and PCs, Mr Bailey said: "The force has reviewed everything that frontline officers and PCSOs can deliver, including their powers, duties, entitlements and the average annual cost of each, which is no longer significantly different.
"PCSOs are not permitted to arrest, process or interview prisoners. The role also has limitations in respect of shift cover, use of police cars for pursuit or deployment to situations where there is likely to be confrontation. Therefore, the force plans to remove all 150 PCSO roles."
Chris Jenkinson, of the Unison union, said: “Criminals and those who seek to harm the public will be the only ones celebrating today. PCSOs don’t just wander around the county in uniform to reassure the public, they also do valuable work that helps keep everyone safe.
“If the Norfolk Constabulary goes ahead and gets rid of its PCSOs, the work they currently do tackling low-level crime and anti-social behaviour will either stop altogether, or fall to already hard-pressed police officers and staff to deal with."
A formal staff consultation on the plans is now being launched.