The Police Association says frustrations being voiced by a departing police officer are just the tip of the iceberg and are shared by many senior staff.
Recently-retired Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward says more than a dozen staff have quit from the New Plymouth district in the past year.
He said officers are disheartened by the tight budget and new systems being introduced, which they believe alienate the community.
Mr Coward said further belt-tightening could lead to a jump in crime.
The Police Association says similar warnings in the late 1990s went unheeded - and were followed by an increase in entrenched organised crime and uninvestigated child abuse.