The number of PCSOs across South Yorkshire force will be reduced by 78 to 116, while numbers of police officers will increase by 103, putting a total of 25 extra staff, the force said.
Humberside Police Unison branch secretary Tony Green said the move was shortsighted and an “obvious consequence” of ongoing police cuts.
He said: “PCSOs are an integral and embedded part of community policing, which cannot be replaced overnight with ‘fresh’ police officers who can be dragged away to other jobs.
“I think it is shortsighted to do this and an obvious consequence of ongoing police cuts.”
South Yorkshire Police assistant chief constable Dave Hartley denied that was the case.
He said: “It will take two to three years to fully implement. There will be no redundancies, there are no cuts and this is not a cost saving exercise.
“It is about making sure we have the right workforce composition.
“We will have more officers who can arrest, stop speeding vehicles, people carrying weapons can be stopped and searched. With off road motorbikes, they have the powers to intervene.
“I am absolutely confident this takes us to a much better place.
“The chief constable’s ambition is to bring more officers to the front line. Last year we saw more than 1,000 more arrests than in previous years.
Some existing PCSOs are expected to transfer and be retrained as police officers.