An organization of high-ranking D.C. police officials reversed itself last night and voted not to file a formal complaint charging Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson with discrimination against white officers in top-level promotions.

About 80 members of the Metropolitan Police Officials Association attended the meeting and voted 43 to 37 to rescind an earlier vote to bring the action against Jefferson.

The association has about 200 members with the rank of lieutenant or above.

Attorney Jerome G. Tankel, a spokesman for the group, said he expected the association to set up a task force of officers to examine high-level promotion records since Jefferson became chief 18 months ago.

"The issue is very much alive," Tankel said after the 2 1/2-hour meeting at the police Fifth District headquarters on Bladensburg Road.

The association voted at a meeting May 24 to bring the complaint against Jefferson. Tankel said then that the officers believed Jefferson's appointments above captain have been racially motivated and that there are no department standards for promotion.

Many of the association members objected to that decision after it was learned that fewer than 45 of the members had voted on the issue. Last night's meeting was scheduled by the association's board of directors to give more members a chance to attend.

Police Insp. Chalres Light, a white officer and a 20-year veteran of the force, had asked the group to file the complaint. He said last night that he has not decided whether to pursue the complaint alone.

The vote by the high-ranking police officers follows by less than a week a move by 17 D.C. battalion fire chiefs to file a similar complaint against Fire Chief Jefferson Lewis. CAPTION: Picture, INSP. CHARLES LIGHT . . . supported the complaint