ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 21 -- A deputy police chief from St. Petersburg, Fla., was hired today as the new chief of the Annapolis Police Department, ending a two-month, nationwide search by city officials.

Harold M. Robbins Jr., 43, who heads the investigation division of the St. Petersburg department, was selected from six finalists picked by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He will start the Annapolis job on Oct. 22. Robbins's salary of $71,000 a year will be the highest paid any city official, said Alderman Carl O. Snowden.

Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins said Robbins was the association's first choice, as well as his own, because of the numerous positions he has held in 21 years in St. Petersburg, his popularity with uniformed officers and his master's degree in criminal justice.

As police chief in Maryland's capital, Robbins will command a department with 114 sworn officers and a $6.2 million budget. It is slightly smaller than the division he has headed for eight years.

The Annapolis department has been plagued by low morale and lingering community resentment stemming from a yearlong internal investigation of a predominantly black narcotics unit. The previous chief, John C. Schmitt, resigned in May amid allegations of departmental racism.

At a news conference today, Robbins said he was aware of the problems and the high expectations awaiting him. He said he will not propose solutions until investigating firsthand.

The City Council approved Robbins's nomination 5 to 0, with two members absent and two abstaining. Snowden said he and Alderman Samuel Gilmer abstained because they had received unfavorable information about Robbins's position on promotions for minority officers and race relations and they wanted to investigate the nominee's background.