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HARVARD — The Police Department’s FY09 budget is no different than last year’s, said police Chief Edward Denmark.

The increase is 90 percent contract-driven, he said during the Board of Selectmen’s Dec. 18 meeting. There are no changes in shifts, up or down, he said, which is a concern.

Of the 1,947 annual shifts, he said about 243 are singles. That is, only one officer is on duty.

Having two officers on duty 24 hours a day is a long-term aim, said Denmark.

It’s not critical but it may be at some point,” he said.

For example, as the population grows and the volume of traffic through town increases, he said the percentage of “contact” incidents is likely to rise. That can be risky for an officer working alone, he said.

Nuts-and-bolts items, such as unexpected heating- ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) repairs, caused budget bulges this year, said Denmark. Hopefully, he said, that won’t surface again next year.

He said he also hopes to “reallocate” training costs via courses offered by the federal government through the Department of Homeland Security. Some involve travel, he said, but the courses are free.

The department’s fleet of cruisers is in good shape, he added, but the police chief’s vehicle is due for replacement.

Based on the “life-cycle chart” for police vehicles, said Denmark, the capital plan calls for replacing two cruisers this year. But those vehicles can be expected to last another year, he said, which would make the timing right for replacing the Ford Explorer he drives before its mileage goes over the life-cycle line.

“I’d like to experiment with a green vehicle,” he said. If it works out, he said the whole fleet could segue to “green” over time.

“Chief, is there anything you lose sleep over?” asked Selectman Robert Eubank.

The chief said no, but “the unusual happens.”

For example, he said, an officer on duty alone had a tussle with an arrested prisoner in the station’s cell block. That’s the kind of “negative encounter” more likely to occur as the town grows, he said. The issue will have to be addressed eventually, he added.

Denmark said he plans to do it “incrementally” rather than all at once. A second sergeant’s position he successfully argued for last year is in the works. The assessment process starts this week, he said.