Cumbria Police is facing a shortfall of more than £7m over the next five years, new figures have revealed.
The force is to implement a range of efficiency savings in an effort to cope with expected cuts in central government and council tax funding.
There are no immediate plans to cut frontline officers, but there are doubts over future numbers of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
Cumbria Police Authority chair Ray Cole said the situation was "challenging."
Mr Cole said: "Without a doubt it will be a challenging time, but our commitment as a governing body is to ensure that the constabulary continues to deliver a policing service that keeps the communities of Cumbria safe.
"Our treasurer and the chief constable have highlighted to us at the first opportunity the financial difficulties we may face in the coming years, but this gives us an ideal opportunity to make the changes needed so we can protect visible policing in the county."
Chief Constable Craig Mackey added: "These are difficult times but there is an opportunity to re-shape for a better service and change has to be part of the solution.
"Given the ever-changing financial climate, our forecasts indicate there will have to be savings made and our current assumptions show that this could be £3.8m in 2010/11 and a cumulative figure of £7.3m by 2013/14.
"It is without question that the shape of the constabulary will be very different at the end of the forecasting period than it is today.
"However, this is our opportunity to build a sustainable organisation which builds on our strengths and standards of excellence."