The crowd roared its approval on Tuesday when Mayor Marion Barry promised a hard-hitting antidrug program in his State of the District speech, saying he would announce major new police initiatives in a week or so.

The only problem is, city government sources said yesterday, those ideas are still in the developing stage and not likely to be ready for an announcement by then. The contrast between rhetoric and reality, the mayor's aides said, reflects a gap between Barry's eagerness to show he is in charge and the difficulty of implementing programs to solve the city's troubling social problems.

To show that he is in charge, the aides said, the mayor risks the danger of creating rising expectations. "There's opportunity and risk," one adviser said. "He's going to have to follow through."

In recent weeks Barry, who was confronted repeatedly in 1987 with questions about his leadership and relationships with women other than his wife, has purposefully sought to demonstrate that he is in command of himself and his office, appearing frequently with Effi Barry and tending to dozens of community- and government-oriented events.

Barry's advisers and other city politicians caution, however, that the mayor has seemed to ebb and flow in his attention to city issues, and that they now see him in an "up cycle" in which he is focusing on his job and image.

"What {the mayor is} trying to do is lower his profile on his personal behavior and it's back to the 'I'm in charge' themes about snow and trash removal, drugs and the future. He really is looking at all of that stuff . . . but everything comes back to {his} personality . . . {how long} will he do it," said one adviser.

For example, the ceremony at the Kennedy Center, which cost the city about $20,000 to stage, initially was to have been a routine speech listing accomplishments, but aides persuaded Barry to make it an upbeat celebration and to use it as a forum to look to the future.

Rather than dwelling on a self-serving recount of accomplishments, Barry's professionally drafted speech pridefully sketched the recent history of the District, but then wove in his work as mayor and ended with a flurry of specific promises to combat drugs, educate and inspire the youth and take care of the old. Barry also strongly hinted that he may seek to raise taxes to pay for city programs.

"It was felt that the speech just couldn't be the usual kind of thing," one aide said. Another aide said key Barry staff members insisted that the city government had to "let people know we are serious about turning the corner."

The program, switched from the Washington Convention Center to the Kennedy Center, was orchestrated by three Barry advisers, Herbert O. Reid Sr. and special assistants Audrey Rowe and Tina Smith, according to the mayor's staff.

Reid, the mayor's legal counsel and acting staff director, agreed that Barry laid out an aggressive agenda that will be judged by how the city bureaucracy and Barry follow up.

"Obviously that's true, you don't reach if you don't stretch," said Reid.

Barry, who is scheduled to leave today for the Super Bowl in San Diego, will have numerous opportunities in the coming weeks to demonstrate whatever follow-up he has planned, city officials said.

Barry has promised to fill several top level jobs in his government by Tuesday. Major vacancies include two deputy mayor positions, director of finance and revenue, the mayor's chief of staff and director of the Office of Business and Economic Development.

On Feb. 8, the mayor will release his fiscal 1989 budget, which should provide indications of Barry's longer-range plans to deal with drug abuse, skyrocketing corrections costs and other public safety issues.

With six members of the D.C. Council up for reelection this year, including John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee, Barry can expect more vocal challenges to his plans, some politicians said.

Wilson already has signaled that Barry will have to justify the suggestion in his speech Tuesday of a need for tax increases.

Council members, sensing at least a temporary wave of positive reaction to Barry's speech, have indicated a reluctance to criticize Barry openly now.

One council member, recalling that Barry held a $100,000 one-day drug summit during his 1986 reelection bid, questioned whether the mayor's call for a summit with Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles and Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer will lean to meaningful cooperation.

Aides to the mayor yesterday disputed reports that Barry had failed to gave advance notice to Baliles and Schaefer about the summit idea.

Barry's staff noted that the mayor mentioned the idea to the governors during a recent meeting on the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and that an aide to Barry called the Washington offices of Maryland and Virginia to relay word that the summit suggestion would be in Barry's speech.