Former D.C. Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson, whose relations with Mayor Marion Barry were often strained before his retirement last year, yesterday was named as director of City Council member John L. Ray's campaign for the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Meanwhile, council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) said she has decided to launch her own campaign for mayor in February, in light of council Chairman Arrington Dixon's decision this week to stay out of the race and seek reelection as chairman. Jarvis and Dixon are thought to share much the same base of support.

Within five days of formally announcing his campaign for mayor, Ray unveiled a 12-member campaign team headed by Jefferson. The team will work closely with Bailey, Deardourff & Associates, a political consulting firm based in McLean, and Richard Sykes, a pollster, who have already mapped out an overall campaign strategy.

Ray denied that his choice of Jefferson signaled a law-and-order tone for his campaign, although the one issue that Ray has pushed strongly thus far is his call for mandatory minimum sentencing for people convicted of violent crimes or selling drugs.

The start of Ray's campaign will be devoted to increasing his name identification by combining a two-week radio campaign with a flurry of public appearances by the candidate, according to John Deardourff, a partner in the consulting firm.

Ray's campaign team is laced with local political activists, including Joseph Carter, a vice president of Garfinckel's, who will serve as a political consultant; Nancy M. Folger of Cleveland Park, a key fund-raiser and early supporter of Barry's 1978 campaign, who will be Ray's finance director; and Everson (Chuck) Esters, an aide to former Mayor Walter E. Washington and staff member of the Democratic National Committee, who will be Ray's deputy campaign director.

Norman Neverson, a marketing executive with the Xerox Corp. and a member of the D.C. Democratic State Commitee from Ward 4, will be director of field operations; and Lillian Huff, a former Democratic national committeewoman, will serve as special projects director.

Jarvis said she would have had little chance of winning if Dixon, her predecessor as Ward 4 council member, had entered the mayoral contest, because they share the same base of support among black, middle-class families with long-time roots in Washington.

Jarvis said that the possible entry in the race of Patricia R. Harris, a former Carter administration cabinet member, might hurt her chances for victory because Harris is presumed to have similar appeal. However, Jarvis insisted that Harris would have trouble translating her national reputation into local appeal.