The Police Federation in Cumbria has expressed concern that officers are being replaced by civilians.
The chairman said that west Cumbria has an increased number of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), but 13 regular officers have been lost.
However, a spokesman for the Cumbria force said the officers had been moved to a terrorism and serious crimes unit.
The funding for PCSOs comes from a separate budget, and the money cannot be used for other officers.
Andy Wilson, chairman of the Cumbria branch of the Police Federation, said: "I've no axe to grind with the individual people who want to become PCSOs, but the government has thrust this onto forces by providing extra budgets to introduce them.
"They were initially to support police officers, but we now find they are being used to replace them."
Superintendent Kevin McGillloway said: "We needed to invest in additional resources in dealing with terrorism, and organised crime and it was decided that each area would give up some police officers for this.
"West Cumbria's contribution was 13 officers.
"The government has made the extra money available to recruit PCSOs only. We couldn't spend it on police officers."