Details of a long-rumoured restructure to the NSW police force surfaced on Thursday, including a merger of 18 metro local area commands that will leave at least nine commanders without a job.
Chatswood and Harbourside, Eastern Suburbs and Rose Bay and Penrith and St Marys are among the local stations that could face a merger, according to a report by Seven News.
That the state's police force was set for a shake-up is no surprise. In April then-new Police Commissioner Mick Fuller revealed a wish to review the force's middle management and place more boots on the ground, in the biggest restructure in 20 years.
At the time it was reported up to 50 of the state's 800 ??superintendents and inspectors would be cut as part of the overhaul, while the entire process would save more than $10 million annually.
According to Seven News, other possible Local Area Commands (LAC) mergers could take place between Newtown and Marrickville, Burwood and Ashfield, Rosehill and Holroyd, Sutherland and Miranda, and Campbelltown and Macquarie Fields.
In a statement Commissioner Fuller said a "flexible workforce" had been on his agenda since day one.
"A large aspect of re-engineering is putting more police back on the frontline and a flexible workforce is a good outcome for the community," he said.
"Over the past six months the NSW Police Force has been widely consulting with stakeholders including the Police Association of NSW, Public Service Association and the community."
He did not comment on the rumoured mergers but said he would be meeting with metropolitan commanders on Friday and expected to make an announcement "soon after."
Acting Public Service Association (PSA) General Secretary Troy Wright said the PSA had long heard "whispers" about mergers in metropolitan and regional areas, which it feared would lead to a loss of civilian jobs.
"We were only informed this week that a formal announcement would be made about metropolitan mergers, but on regional areas we are still in the dark," he said.
The PSA considers a rumoured amalgamation of 11 regional Local Area Commands into seven "most concerning to public safety" as mergers in both metropolitan and regional areas could potentially lead to cuts in the civilian police force, meaning uniformed police spent more time behind the desk and less out in the community.
"I would only be speculating but what we keep hearing is Cootamundra merging with Wagga Wagga and Mudgee with Dubbo. There is a risk those areas become so large they cease to be local.
"The only reason we can fathom splitting the state like that, with separate announcements, is because they are delaying the regional announcement because of the Cootamundra and Murray byelection...It's betting season and that's what I'd be backing," Mr Wright said.
A spokesperson for Police Minister Troy Grant said it was "entirely false to suggest that police services will be reduced in any way" as a result of any structural changes.
"It is in no way about cutting officer numbers. Commissioner Fuller is leading this important reform and has the support of Government in its implementation," she said.
Local police and communities across NSW will be consulted on any potential changes as the re-engineering continues, she said.
"The process of re-engineering is designed to place more frontline officers where we need them the most. It's about giving the people of NSW a police force that is flexible, nimble and prepared to face the changing and evolving crime landscape in NSW."