The search for a new Prince George's County police chief has narrowed to a lieutenant colonel on the county force, a Maryland state police captain and the chiefs of two police departments in Virginia cities.

The four finalists were selected by County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan after an often controversial five-month nationwide search in which he reviewed about 80 applications and conducted more than 25 interviews to find what he calls the ideal candidate.

Sources said the four finalists are:

Acting Prince George's Police Lt. Col. Rice Turner, 41, an 18-year veteran of the county force who once headed its internal affairs unti, which investigates complaints against police officers.

Frank Mazzone, 46, a 19-year Maryland state police veteran who holds then rank of captain with that force. He is know for hs work in ridding the port of Baltimore of organized crime in his role as chief of the Maryland Port Administration police, a job which he was appointed in 1977.

James Taylor, 47, chief of police of Petersburg, Va., since 1978. He previously served as city manager and police commissioner of Newburgh, N.Y., and police chief in two small Michigan towns.

David Hooper, 48, police chief of Roanoke, Va., since 1967. Before that he was police chief of Pottstown, Pa., and once served as an officer in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The four finalists went to Gaithersburg Wednesday for a day-long battery of psychological and adminstrative tests at the headquarters of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Hogan and his aides were to be briefed on the results yesterday, sources said.

Sources close to Hogan said that if the insider, Turner, is chosen, an announcement could be imminent. If an outsider is picked, it may take a week or more to complete necessary background checks.

Hogan has said he favors an outsider for the job, and has made every possible effort to get one. He personally solicited two blacks to apply for the job, but was turned down.

A majority on the County Council -- which must ratify Hogan's choice -- and the local Fraternal Order of Police union have opposed bringing in an outsider.

Laney Hester, president of the police union, said of Hogan's candidates from outside the department: "If these are the best . . . they can find nationwide, then law enforcement is in deep trouble."

The new official will replace Chief John W. Rhoads, who retired on a disability pension in late June.

Of the four candidates, Turner has been on Hogan's list since late August; the three others are newly added.

Mazzone is well known in Maryland law enforcement circles. Once nicknamed the "man of a thousand faces" for his seeming ability to change appearance while doing undercover work, the silver-haired police captain recently aided Prince George's prosecutors in a celebrated murder case.

Mazzone gathered evidence against Eugene T. Meyer -- since convicted in a murder-for-hure scheme -- while posing as a lawyer and visiting Meyer in the county jail. Meyer allegedly solicited Mazzone to commit four murders.

The two Virginia police chiefs are less well known. Hooper, who commands a 250-man force in Roanoke, is described as strait-laced and efficient. According to newspaper reports, he started his career in Florida after a policemen who stopped him for a minor traffic violation suggested he aply for a job on the police force.

Petersburg Chief Taylor heads an 85-member force.