IF MOST OF THE political in Prince George's County seem just a bit sheepish after their performance at the police-chief nomination bash the other night, they should be. Their misbehavior was spectacular. In the cold light of the morning after, the county was as far away as ever from having a new police chief. Now, instead of dwelling on who started it, all of the participants should pull themselves together and try to agree on someone for chief -- it there is still anyone competent who wants to try out for the job.

For the time being, Mr. Hogan has tapped a senior aide and former FBI man, John E. McHale Jr., to take over as acting chief on Dec. 28, when the temporary appointment of acting chief Joseph Vasco expires. But the county executive should not use this reasonable stopgap solution as an excuse for stringing out the next search.

There were, after all, three other "finalists" in Mr. Hogan's talent hunt who might well be considered. One, Rice Turner, is an acting lieutenant colonel on the county force; if county council members persist in their opposition to any "outsider," Mr. Turner's 18 years on the force could be a decisive factor. Another of Mr. Hogan's candidates, Frank Mazzone, is a highly respected investigator for the Maryland State Police, hardly a foreign law enforcement agency. And the third man, David Hooper, is police chief of Roanoke, Va.; like the other two, he is well thought of in law enforcement circles. Some county officials have suggested that retired chief John W. Rhoads might be coaxed back.

If none of these possibilities works, Mr. Hogan might consider appointing a civilian law enforcement expert as a public safety commissioner, to oversee the police department's activities and continue to build on the record of Chief Rhoads -- improving the reputation of the force among black and white residents throughout the county. That has been Mr. Hogan's main concern in seeking out a police chief -- and it deserves the support and cooperation of everyone who puts the well-being of Prince George's County ahead of political shenanigans.