Howard County Executive Elizabeth Bobo appointed Maj. Frederick W. Chaney, the third highest ranking police official in the Montgomery County Police Department, as the county's chief of police yesterday.

Chaney, 49, who will begin his new duties Aug. 1, was selected from among 70 applicants and three semifinalists for the $55,000-a-year job. He succeeds Col. Paul H. Rappaport, who was asked by Bobo to resign in early spring, because he had a law practice on the side, and Bobo said she wanted a change.

The Howard County police union twice gave Rappaport a vote of no confidence.

In appointing Chaney, Bobo bypassed the recommendation of the county Human Rights Commission that she choose a woman or a member of a minority group to rectify "past inequities created by racial and sexual discrimination."

The commission, which studied the department's hiring and promotion practices after they were criticized by the local branch of the NAACP, found that past affirmative actions were inadequate and that at 34, the number of minority and women officers on the 187-member police force was low.

The commission's chairman, Rudolph Chapple, said yesterday that he was "a little disappointed that a qualified black or female wasn't able to be found." But, he added, "It is my opinion that they were working very hard to find the most qualified person, bearing in mind the commission's recommendation."

Bobo said that a transition team she had appointed to interview candidates for the position had interviewed three male candidates, including one black man. The two finalists were white, she said.

Bobo said that while she had considered the commission's recomendation, "obviously it was not the determining factor."

"I think we selected the best possible police chief," she said. "And I think time will tell that he will have an excellent record in affirmative action and human rights."

Chaney said that although Howard County's affirmative action record is not unique, he will seek to improve its hiring and promotions of women and minorities with a more rigorous recruiting effort. He said he will ensure that qualified blacks and women are made aware of opportunities and requirements for advancement.

He added that he is opposed to making promotions based solely on race or sex.

"You just can't push officers to come up . . . . Some officers are very satisfied in what they do and don't want to be promoted," he said.

Asked why he was leaving his job in Montgomery, where he has worked since 1962, Chaney said that he felt ready to take on the challenge of being a police chief.

"The opportunity was not there in Montgomery County. I think we have an excellent police chief, and I think he is going to be there for a long time," he said.

Chaney served in a variety of positions in Montgomery County, including detective, district commander in Germantown, and head of management services such as training and communications. Most recently he has headed the department's 516-officer patrol division.

Montgomery County Police Chief Bernard Crooke described Chaney as "well-respected" and "fair," and having a good sense of humor.

"He's a good adviser, and in my opinion good advisers make good leaders," Crooke said. "He isn't a yes-man here and he won't want yes-men and -women around him."

Crooke said he has not decided on Chaney's successor.