Retired police officers say thousands of former colleagues would be willing to rejoin their forces and help the country cope with coronavirus.
Home Office figures show about 22,000 police officers in England and Wales retired over the past five years.
The Metropolitan Police is already asking retirees to come back.
Former Ch Supt Kul Mahay said many officers would "jump at the challenge" to help people feel safe.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) said it was working with the government to facilitate the return of recently retired officers, depending on “local needs”.
Retired officers will jump at the challenge
Mr Mahay, who retired from Derbyshire Constabulary in 2015, said the police needed to help people feel safe.
The 53-year-old said: “I think for the most part retired officers will jump at the challenge because you see it as a vocation and for me it was a dream at the age of 10 to be a police officer.”
Mr Mahay said retired officers had “a lot of experience” they could bring back to the service, but it was “subject for debate” whether they should be given full powers.
“It's possible we could return in more of a support role, to free up uniformed and non-uniformed staff to get out there and maintain order,” he said.
Police officers will be depleted
Former Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Jane Sawyers said forces needed to plan for their officers getting coronavirus.
The 55-year-old, who now lectures at Staffordshire University, said: "The job changes dramatically within five years in terms of procedures and paperwork - those officers will have more to do."
There'll be a flood of people
Former officer Mike Pannett said there were many retired colleagues who were “as loyal as anything to policing and to the country”.
The 56-year-old from York served with both the Metropolitan and North Yorkshire forces and said there was still “a sense of duty” for police officers, even after leaving the force.
“I think there’ll be a flood of people,” he said.
“I know scores of former cops, including myself, who are volunteering to do things for nothing in their communities anyway."
He said there was a large pool of officers who had retired after 30 years and were still “extremely fit” in their 50s or early 60s.
The Home Office has relaxed tax and pension rules for officers to encourage those “nearing retirement or those recently retired” to serve.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the NPCC said the new measures would “boost resources” as forces came under increasing pressure from Covid-19.
According to Home Office data there are 22,466 officers in England, Wales and the British Transport Police who left service through "normal retirement" between 2014-15 and 2018-19.
This excludes those who left on medical grounds, resigned, transferred or were dismissed.
The Metropolitan Police is asking officers who retired in the past five years to consider returning in some capacity.
About 5,000 officers retired from the Met over five years according to the most recent available data, with 1,350 in Greater Manchester and 1,000 in the West Midlands.
Proposals range from complete re-instatement at an officer's former rank to using them to support police staff or as special constables.
The NPCC is encouraging those who feel they could return to service to contact their former or local force,
It said officers whose training was still in date would not need to do it again.
Former officers will be vetted before being allowed back into service, the NPCC said, but this could be fast-tracked for those who left within the past year.