Several high-ranking Maryland State Police officers improperly tampered with promotion procedures to favor some individuals, according to an investigation by the state Attorney General's Office.

Partial findings of the investigation, released yesterday by the new police superintendent, state that established procedures were overlooked, promotion lists altered and some officers arbitrarily given lower rankings in several instances in 1981 and possibly earlier.

According to the findings, allegations of favoritism and improper juggling of ratings by some officers -- all unnamed -- were known over a year ago but the state police superintendent at the time, Col. Thomas Smith, did not investigate, relying instead on assurances of his subordinates that nothing was improper.

While the investigation by Assistant Attorney General Emory Plitt found "no criminal intent or action" by officers involved, a letter from Gov. Harry Hughes released yesterday said the findings were "very disturbing" and asked the new superintendent, Wilbert T. Travers Jr., to take corrective action.

Travers said he will take no action against the officers involved, since it "doesn't serve any purpose at this point."

Along with releasing the findings, Travers issued yesterday a strict set of guidelines for promotions that are to be followed in the future. "I deal with the agency and my family the same way," Travers said. "If people know what's expected of them and know exactly what the rules are, by God they've nobody to blame but themselves if they don't follow procedure."

Travers, who got a copy of the attorney general's report when he was sworn in July 19, declined to name any of the officers involved or to say how many promotions among the 1,550-member force were affected. He said there was no indication that Smith, the former superintendent, acted improperly.

Promotions to commissioned officers ranks -- 2nd lieutenant and above -- are made by the superintendent from a list of eligible candidates. The superintendent can select an individual from anywhere on the eligible list, regardless of ranking on the list.

The attorney general's investigation found that in some cases an officer's "promotional potential rating" -- which makes up 55 percent of the score used to determine eligibility for promotion -- was set by the officers' supervisors before any evaluation or testing had taken place. In other cases, raters were directed to give predetermined scores to certain officers.

In one incident mentioned in the findings, high-ranking officers agreed beforehand to give one officer the highest promotional potential rating to ensure that that person would appear at the top of the promotion list. "Then, rather than the other candidates being rated on their own merit, they were all given promotional potential ratings lower than the top-rated individual," the investigation found.