The thin blue line is starting to look anorexic. And if the Budget doesn't swell police coffers, the front line fears the five-year freeze on funds is really going to bite.
Police Association president Greg O'Connor is picking response times as one area where the slide will begin. He also sees resources drained from other investigations as pressure mounts to tackle high rates of domestic abuse and violence against children.
The Government has identified family violence as a priority because it has bucked a trend of crime rates tracking down. It is likely funding will be targeted here, rather than general policing.
This won't hurt the Government. The economy, not law and order, is a priority for most voters. Cutting police funding hasn't had catastrophic effects because New Zealand is mirroring a global trend of dropping crime rates.
But without a substantial Budget boost, finding the money to fund annual pay rises and maintain resources could push the thin blue line into the red.
The Dominion Post