Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson yesterday denounced "untruths, half-truths, innuendos and mere speculation" in press reports of his decision to retire on June 30, but declined to elaborate on his objections.

Jefferson, the first black police chief in the city's history, delivered a brief statement in which he said he had called reporters to the Municipal Center to "set the record straight" about his decision to retire.

But aside from stating that his retirement is "no different from the actions taken by former chiefs of police," he declined further comment.

Press reports have cited differences between Jefferson and Mayor Marion Barry over the size of the police force, with Barry favoring fewer officers and Jefferson wanting more.

Meanwhile, City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers began a round of interviews with all the department's assistant chiefs and deputy chiefs in preparation for naming an acting chief to serve after Jefferson retires.

Barry declined to comment on the search for a new chief. But sources close to the mayor said they believe Assistant Chiefs Maurice Turner and Marty Tapscott and Deputy Chief Isaac Fulwood are the frontrunners. Rogers has stated that a new permanent chief probably will come from within the department.

Jefferson declined to answer questions yesterday after he had read a prepared statement, striding quickly from the room instead. In the statement, he said he had no immediate plans for the future, had not been consulted on his successor and will offer no advice on one.

He apparently objected to some reports that said he resigned from the department rather than retiring, and referred in his statement to a report speculating that Turner, as assistant chief in charge of field operations, was best situated to become the new chief.

Jefferson said that in his 32-year career, only three chiefs -- including himself -- were promoted to the job after serving as head of field operations.