The State Government has announced it will merge 20 of Sydney's 46 police Local Area Commands into just 10 over the next two years.

The plan is aimed at returning more officers to the beat and improving the police force's engagement with local communities.

Police Minister, Mike Gallacher, says officers in management positions will be put on the frontline.

"That will see at least 100 police, possibly more, being returned to fully operational duties," he said.

Mr Gallacher also says the mergers will not affect the Government's previous promise to increase the size of the police force to 16,665 officers by 2015.

Pat Gooley from the Police Association says he is cautiously optimistic about the plan.

"It's really hinged on the consultation process with the affected officers and the communities that are going to be affected," he said.

"We've been assured a 12-month consultation process where all our members affected and the community will be consulted and we think that's important to make sure we get the right outcome for each LAC.

But he says there will be a leadership vacuum if the plan fails.

"If we rush into this, we simply embark on a cost-cutting exercise," he said.

The Government will merge eight commands as a trial this year.

They include City Central and the Rocks, Manly and the Northern Beaches, Eastwood and Gladesville and Botany Bay and St George.

Another 12 commands will merge once the trial has been completed and assessed.

They include Ku-ring-Gai and the Hills, Kings Cross and Rose Bay, Marrickville and Ashfield, Harbourside and North Shore, Redfern and Surry Hills, Sutherland and Miranda.


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