ANNAPOLIS, AUG. 29 -- Anne Arundel County police are searching for a Crofton man who escaped from police custody Tuesday night after allegedly beating and abducting the officer who was escorting him to jail.

Harold D. Rogers, 24, was riding handcuffed in the front seat of Officer Janice J. Schwartz's patrol car here when he managed to wrestle the officer's gun away from her, police said.

According to Officer V. Richard Molloy, an Anne Arundel police spokesman, Rogers allegedly struck the 26-year-old Schwartz in the face and banged her head against a window before seizing the weapon. Rogers then ordered the officer to drive from Annapolis to Crofton, where a woman believed to be Rogers's wife, Sharon, entered the car, Molloy said.

Schwartz has told investigators that Rogers told his companion that he was considering killing Schwartz, but that the companion talked Rogers into releasing Schwartz and stealing the patrol car instead.

The officer walked to a nearby house to telephone authorities, who found the abandoned police car a few blocks away.

Schwartz was treated for facial lacerations and a broken tooth.

Molloy said that Schwartz had been taking Rogers to the county jail from the District Court commissioner's office, where Rogers had appeared on an Anne Arundel arrest warrant for felony theft. Rogers had been turned over to Anne Arundel police by authorities in Prince George's County, where he was awaiting trial on a charge of violating probation, and had to be returned to jail because of an outstanding felony theft warrant from Loudoun County, Molloy said.

"The only mistake {Schwartz} made was handcuffing him with his hands in front of him," Molloy said. "But she said he had been behaving like a perfect gentleman and was complaining about his arms and she felt sorry for him."

Law enforcement officials in Montgomery County said that three weeks ago they argued strenuously against a Circuit Court judge's decision not to send Rogers to jail.

In January, Rogers pleaded guilty to four burglaries in Montgomery County and was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Judge I. Leonard Ruben. The judge also imposed a concurrent sentence of seven years in connection with the kidnapping of Rogers's former girlfriend in June 1989, court records show.

Over the objections of a state prosecutor, however, Ruben suspended the prison sentence, placed Rogers on probation and ordered him to attend the Teen Challenge substance abuse program.

"Under no circumstances would I recommend placing this individual on probation supervision again," Assistant State's Attorney Thomas M. Tamm told the judge in January.

After Rogers failed to participate in the drug treatment program, Ruben found him guilty Aug. 7 of violating probation. Ruben then ordered him to undergo urinalysis twice a week and attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Ruben delayed sentencing Rogers until Nov. 28.

Ruben's decision not to incarcerate Rogers Aug. 7 came over the objections of Tamm and a probation officer. "I told him {Ruben} that you made a promise to sentence him to 15 years if he violated probation. I think the court should live up to its promise," Tamm said today.