D.C. Council member Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 8) and D.C. Police Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr. got into a lively exchange yesterday -- sometimes pointing fingers and politely interrupting each other -- about whether the chief assigns enough officers to the Southeast Washington neighborhoods she represents.

At a public hearing before the council's Judiciary Committee, which Rolark heads, Turner said 352 of the department's 3,894 uniformed officers are assigned to the 7th District, which patrols communities east of the Anacostia River. Citizens in those neighborhoods have complained in recent weeks about inadequate police protection as murders and drug-related incidents have increased.

Rolark, who is up for reelection next year, said she is concerned that serious crime is rising in her ward while the number of police officers remains lower than those in other areas, such as Capitol Hill. "We have high incidence of homicides east of the {Anacostia} river," she said.

Turner responded, "That one characteristic alone will not change the number" of officers there. In addition to criminal offenses, Turner said police officials consider such factors as population and calls to the 911 emergency number in determining how many officers to put in each of the city's seven police districts. The 7th District has the second-lowest number of officers assigned to it.

For nearly two hours, Rolark questioned Turner and four other top police officials about the number of officers in each police unit, the responsibilities of each unit and why more officers are not assigned to foot patrols.

Rolark said her committee had directed that 10 percent of the police manpower be assigned to foot patrols so the officers will be in more contact with residents. But Turner, who said he did not have the exact figures on the number of officers on foot patrol, said the 10 percent figure is "an unreasonable expectation."

At one point, Rolark interrupted Turner: "What areas have gotten foot patrols?"

"Most are in business areas -- Minnesota Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue," Turner said, referring to Southeast neighborhoods.

"Wisconsin Avenue?" Rolark interrupted, asking about an artery that cuts across affluent sections of Wards 2 and 3.

"Wisconsin Avenue," Turner agreed.

During another exchange, Rolark complained that more officers should be assigned to Cheriy's, a popular Southwest Washington dance hall that has been the scene of recent shootings.

"It is unfortunate that these incidents occurred," said Turner, adding that having more officers there would not necessarily stop the violence. "They shoot police officers."

"I understand that, Chief," Rolark retorted.

"Yes, ma'am," Turner continued as he explained that more officers have been assigned to the dance hall.