Plans to cut almost 3,000 posts from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have been backed by the police authority.
Members voted to axe 1,387 officer and 1,557 civilian posts between now and 2014/15, a 23% reduction in staff, to save £134m from the force's budget.
Officer numbers will be reduced through natural wastage, a recruitment freeze and forced retirement for those with more than 30 years' service.
The union Unison called the cuts "deeply worrying" for the region.
Staff members had one-to-one meetings with their managers last week to find out whether their posts would be removed under the savings plans.
'Lots of tears'
Savings of £52m need to be found in 2011/12, which means that 750 civilian and 309 officer posts will go by 2012.
Chief Constable Peter Fahy said the past week since the force announced the cuts had been "pretty horrible" and there had been "lots of tears".
"There's a lot of dedicated people going through a period of great uncertainty about their future after years of dedicated service.
"It's very easy to use terms like back office and efficiency savings but these are real people with real families.
"The meeting was just confirming the plans that we have already put forward, it has been a very painful experience.
"We think we can keep the service up for the next two years, but beyond that it looks a bit more difficult."
He admitted that after 10 years of growth within the economy lots of bureaucracy had "built up", which could be cut when times were tough.
The Greater Manchester Police Authority chairman, Councillor Paul Murphy, said: "This is an unprecedented situation which we do not want to be in, but we must face reality.
"This is extremely difficult. We do not underestimate the impact this will have on people who have worked hard for many years to make Greater Manchester a safer place.
"Their welfare is paramount and that's why things such as voluntary redundancy, extended notice periods and support in getting back into the jobs market have been so important for us."