Arlington police publicly demanded yesterday that the county prosecutor, William S. Burroughs, remove himself from the investigation of the slaying of an Arlington real estate salesman and his girlfriend last year.

"If Burroughs continues to involve himself in the investigation of the case, it will be a problem," said Chief of Police Roy C. McLaren.

Meanwhile, the county's chief of detectives and three of his men were summoned to Richmond yesterday to present to the attorney general's office their views on the investigation. The state has become involved in the investigation after receiving a letter alleging "improprieties" in the handling of the case. A spokesman would not identify the letter writer.

Burroughs could not be reached for comment last night.

The dispute between Arlington police and the prosecutor centers on the investigation of the murders last May of Alan Foreman, 26, and Donna Shoemaker, 25, whose bullet-riddled bodies were found in Foreman's Jaguar in his North Arlington garage.

Three men were indicted last June for the murders, but charges against two eventually were dropped, and the third defendant, Richard Lee Earman, was acquitted after an eight-day trial ending last October.

Burroughs took charge of the investigation, which has continued since the acquittal. Police have asked him to remove himself entirely from the case because they are miffed at what they see as his "interference" in the investigation, and his refusal to allow them to proceed as they see it, according to several policemen.

"The investigators feel they have enough evidence to present to the grand jury," said Capt. William Allen, the police department's chief of detectives. Burroughs has said that he would not go to the grand jury on the case until and unless he felt he had enough evidence.

"We feel that the prosecutor's office has been more involved (in the investigation) than they should be," Allen said. "The prosecutor does not investigate and the police do not prosecute."

Burroughs conducted a number of interviews with defendants and witnesses before the trial and ordered police to refer all media inquiries to him. He also accompanied detectives during much of the on-scene and follow-up investigation of the case.

"It's not proper for him to decide what we should do; it indicates he doesn't have confidence in us," said one veteran police official. "He's maintained a level of interference since early in the case."

Beyond the dispute over lines of authority, which Allen conceded was "a gray area," it is known that police contend that Burroughs has not allowed them to properly re-examine the role of one of the early figures in the case.

The prosecution's original theory was that Earman killed the couple as the culmination of a conspiracy to collect the dead man's life insurance benefits. Joseph N. Martin, then an insurance salesman, had sold Foreman a $56,000 life insurance policy a few months before Foreman was killed. Martin was the second defendant in the case, and the third defendant, Charles N. Silcox, was the beneficiary of the life insurance policy.

Burroughs first dropped charges against Silcox, and then, during the trial, dropped them against Martin, saying at the time, "I believe him to be innocent."

Martin, now a real estate salesman in Northern Virginia, has taken a lie detector test since the trial and has had a number of discussions with Burroughs, according to informed sources.According to sources close to the case, Martin says that the lie detector proves his innocence.

Martin also believe that the police have been following him and harassing him, according to sources close to the investigation.