The Riverdale Town Council, still smarting from the bad publicity that came last month when the police chief fabricated a story about using a judge in undercover operations, is considering disbanding the 12-member department.

"A lot of folks feel security and safety knowing they have their own police department," council member Ann M. Ferguson said yesterday. "But right now, the people are tired of {problems with} the police department and want improvements."

If Riverdale votes to abolish the police force, it would be joining several other Prince George's County municipalities that in recent years decided to scale down or abolish local departments. Those forces, ranging from one officer to 40, were abandoned as officials sought ways to deal with escalating costs.

Council member Franklin M. Creegan, who is leading the effort to abolish the Riverdale department, said the town of 5,200 is not getting its money's worth from the police department.

Riverdale spends $506,255, or 39 percent, of its annual budget to operate the police force.

In recent years, the towns of College Park and New Carrollton decided that such costs were unnecessary, so they stopped local police service and contracted with the county police department to assign two officers to each city.

At a heated meeting Tuesday night, the six-member Riverdale council stopped short of abolishing the force, voting instead to hire a consultant firm to study management practices of the department and to make recommendations for changes.

One option as a result of the study might be to disband the department and contract with the county, said Mayor Moreland Perkins, but others indicated that such a drastic step is unlikely. The effort by some council members to get rid of the police department was widely viewed as a tactic to punish rank-and-file officers for taking a vote of no confidence in Police Chief Alfred Barcenas after the fabricated story involving the judge became public.

The vote Tuesday, Perkins said, "brings to a head the accumulated experience of the town in having a great deal of trouble from the police department."

The council is about to open an investigation into charges that an officer in the department has fixed tickets, officials said. But the most embarrassing incident lately was the widely publicized story concocted by Barcenas last month after two Riverdale officers arrested Prince George's Circuit Court Judge Jacob S. Levin on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Levin was stopped for driving at night without headlights, and officers ordered a breath test, which showed he had no alcohol in his system. No charges were filed.

Barcenas told a reporter that Levin was on a secret mission to test officers' arrest procedures in alcohol-related traffic offenses. The police chief later acknowledged he made up the story to protect his officers and the judge.

Barcenas, 42, was appointed chief in late 1985. His predecessor, Leo W. Link, resigned amid allegations that while intoxicated he had threatened a neighbor with a handgun. Link eventually was acquitted of assault and battery charges.