At the scene of a shooting in Southeast Washington Tuesday, a police officer gestured to the swarm of other officers gathered around the victim and shook his head in frustration.

"See those 10 policemen?" said the officer leaning against a cruiser at Alabama Avenue and Stanton Terrace SE. "That's all we got out here on the street right now. One good shooting, and that's it. We just don't have enough men on the street at one time."

The officer in the 7th Police District, an area that has been hit hard by the increased violence associated with the District's growing illicit drug trade, was voicing the sentiments of many D.C. police officers: The police force needs more manpower.

"Here we are in the worst drug epidemic and its associated violence that the city has ever seen and not one new police position is requested in the mayor's new budget," said Gary Hankins, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police labor committee.

Hankins said yesterday that the union is renewing its call for 500 more officers. The number of telephone calls for police service in 1980 was 673,000. Hankins projects the number will rise to 1,113,000 by next year.

The authorized number of officers, however, has dropped from 4,000 eight years ago to 3,880, Hankins said. "There are just not enough cops out there," he said.

Capt. William White III, a police spokesman, declined to comment on whether the department is considering hiring more officers.

D.C. Council member Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 8), who heads the council Judiciary Committee, which oversees the police department, sent a letter to Mayor Marion Barry yesterday calling for more police officers in her ward.

"It's a matter of life and death," said Rolark, who has complained that Southeast receives less police protection than the more affluent areas of the city.

"We have to have more officers on the street," she said. "I'm appalled at the carnage in this city. Of the 44 homicides this year, 13 -- or 30 percent -- have been in the 7th Police District and my ward. Twelve {of those} -- or 92 percent -- were drug related."

Hankins and Rolark praised Police Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr.'s announcement that police officers soon will be armed with 9mm semiautomatic weapons and that patrol cars will be equipped with shotguns. However, they said that without more officers, the more sophisticated weapons would not be enough to combat the city's drug wars.

"It won't do a thing to impact the drug problem," Hankins said. "Only more police officers coupled with stiffer penalties will have an impact."

"I applaud Chief Turner's decision to use more firepower," Rolark said. "But we need more than additional firepower. There must be men and women to use it. We need to release money from police overtime, and place more police on the streets of the 7th Police District now."