Proposed cuts would see 190 Essex police community support officer (PCSO) jobs disappear and 15 police stations close their public counters in April.
Essex Police said it had to find £63m savings to its annual budget of £262m.
PCSO numbers would be reduced from 250 to 60, while the number of stations where the public can walk in would drop from 25 to 10.
The PCSO union Unison has criticised the plans, but the chief constable called it “absolutely essential”
The force currently employs about 3,000 officers, 375 specials, 250 police community support officers and 1,850 other staff.
Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said the changes were “absolutely essential” to achieve the savings target by 2019-20.
“Many of the changes we announce today would need to be made even if money wasn't a problem,” he said.
“We need to get smarter, more efficient and put our limited resources where they can help people in need, not into outdated buildings or outmoded styles of policing.”
The station closures were part of a plan to get rid of 50 out of 80 police buildings, which the force said would remove £30m from maintenance costs.
As a result, civilian customer contact posts would be cut from 98 to 36.
Proposed police stations with front counters remaining open from April 2016:
- Saffron Walden
Front counters would be lost in:
- Canvey Island
- Great Dunmow
- South Ockenden
- South Woodham Ferrers
The current headquarters at Springfield, Chelmsford would be sold and a new one built elsewhere.
John Watts, Unison branch secretary for Essex Police, said: “Police stations have been a focus for the community and to lose them is very sad.
“PCSOs have integrated into the community and run a number of projects and these will be lost.
“What we're against is removing the police stations and police presence from everybody's towns.”
Nick Alston, Conservative police and crime commissioner for Essex, said: “In the face of hard choices, the chief constable and I are determined that Essex Police will continue to do all it can to keep our county safe both now and for the future.”
The force said a 45-day consultation period was under way, but that the plan was to introduce the changes in April 2016.
An Essex PCSO, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Stuff that people want us to look into – nuisance neighbours, anti-social behaviour – neighbourhood policing and the local stuff will all go out of the window.
“Some of my colleagues were in tears yesterday. It's been my career. It's something I've loved doing.
“There will be a lot of intelligence lost. Younger people talk to us because they don't associate us with police officers as such.”
He said that after the consultation, PCSOs would face a closed selection process and they would find out if they have kept their jobs on 19 December.
He added: “After many years, it's a bit of a slap in the face.
“You get a 15 minute meeting to say you're losing your job.”