Operation Clean Sweep -- the District's controversial street-level drug crackdown that was virtually halted last month because of high overtime costs -- will resume Sunday as one step in a police offensive against drug-related violence, D.C. Police Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr. announced yesterday.

Turner said the city-wide offensive is designed "to disrupt drug sales any way we can." It will include arming police officers with semiautomatic weapons during the next six months, special task forces targeting specific drugs and dealer groups and two yet-to-be unveiled operations aimed at drug sales and weapons seizures, he said.

"We want to paint a picture to narcotics dealers, narcotics users and narcotics abusers that we are not going to tolerate the drug sales, the drug use or the violence that's associated with that," Turner said yesterday. His remarks came at an informal news conference called to discuss the escalating drug sales and violence that have gripped the city in recent months.

The city's 45th and 46th homicides of the year were reported yesterday, less than six weeks into 1988. {Details, Page B2.} Killings are occurring at about twice the rate of early 1987, police say.

Also yesterday, more details emerged on the department's plans to provide its 3,880 members with semiautomatic weapons, a decision that places city police in the company of a growing number of police departments that are turning in six-shooter revolvers for semiautomatic weapons to more closely match their criminal opponents.

"Clearly there has been a trend nationally away from the six-shooter," said Jerald R. Vaughn, executive director of the International Association of the Chiefs of Police. Last year an association survey indicated that of 3,000 police departments responding, 810 had armed officers with semiautomatic weapons.

Locally, Maryland, Montgomery and Prince George's county police have announced plans to switch to semiautomatic weapons, according to law enforcement officials. The Miami Police Department has armed its officers with Glock 17 9 mm weapons, Arizona and Jacksonville, Fla., city police are carrying semiautomatics, officials said.

District officers currently are armed with four-inch barrel Smith & Wesson or Colt .38-caliber revolvers. A semiautomatic weapon fires each time the trigger is squeezed, while a fully automatic weapon will fire as long as the trigger is depressed. When they are equipped with semiautomatic guns, officers will be able to fire as many as 16 rounds, compared with the six rounds that their revolvers hold.

"Police officers have wanted semiautomatic weapons for 15 years. The main justification is not the striking power as much as it is the instant availability of the extra ammunition in the clip so that you don't have to reload. The worst possible situation is they're still shooting at you and you're still reloading," said Edward F. Connors III, president of the Institute for Law and Justice Inc.

"While many police departments have adopted the 9 mm, many more would if it weren't for the economics. You're talking a tremendous cash outlay to convert those departments," Vaughn said, adding that the weapons cost $275 to $500 each.

"Whatever the cost will be, we're going to pay the price to arm our officers," Turner said.

A seven-member committee, appointed by Turner last month to recommend which 9 mm weapon to purchase and how to train officers to safely use it, is to present its final recommendation to the chief by the end of the month, said Deputy Chief Charles Charles Samarra, commander of the department Special Operations division and chairman of the Firearms Evaluation Committee.

"It's not the type of program where you can buy the guns tomorrow and equip the officers the next day," Samarra said. "It's going to take a lot of . . . advanced weapons training to make sure before they go out into the street they really know how to use them."

Task force members are studying, among other things, the cost of various weapons and ammunition, the cost to train officers, their trainers and weapons maintenance employees, and how long the transition to the new weapons will take, Samarra said.

"The training they receive with whatever weapons we go to is as important, perhaps more important, than what exact weapons we {choose} to ensure the safety of both the officers and the citizens," Samarra said.

Committee members also are setting up a priority system to decide what officers get the weapons and training first.

Law enforcement officials yesterday hailed the city's move toward semiautomatic weapons, citing increased firepower and the decrease in reloading as benefits.

"The only justification police managers have used against them is safety -- the old chiefs favored the six shooter over the automatics because they just felt there was a possibility of more accident discharges and jamming," Connors said. "But the technology has gotten so much better over the past few years that there's not a safety issue anymore."