When the list of arrests by 3rd District patrol officers was read at roll call one night last year, James Alexander's name was at the bottom. For six straight weeks he had failed to make a single arrest. For one thing, the 10-year veteran hated going to court--a time-consuming follow-up to most arrests. Unless an obvious case presented itself, Alexander's personal policy was to avoid making arrests.

His captain, Michael Canfield, also has a policy: Officers should arrest lawbreakers. That's their job. And until Alexander fulfilled the minimum quota of two arrests every six weeks that Canfield sets for all his officers, he would be punished, assigned the worst hours in the police department, the unpopular weekend shift, a sort of K-P duty that rookies usually fill.

"It just destroyed my morale," Alexander recalled. He realized there was only one way to get back into the captain's good graces. Canfield wanted cases. He would get them.

For the next six weeks Alexander combed the streets of 3-D in the heart of downtown Washington, searching for any and every possible arrest. He made three disorderly conduct cases, a gun case, a marijuana case, a drunk driving case, two stolen property cases, an arrest for bootlegging, one for a "disorderly" craps game, even one he says a sympathetic officer gave him. Officer Anthony Patterson questioned the merit of one of Alexander's arrests and tried to get him to drop the charges. Alexander would not budge.

"He had to go out and lock somebody up," Patterson says. "I said, 'God damn, just think what else he would do if threatened with losing his days off.' "

When the six-week period was over, Alexander had made 15 arrests. He even finished second in the "Officer of the Month" competition, an award bestowed on the cop with the highest arrest totals.

Several days later, Alexander was on his scooter when Canfield and two sergeants rode up. "The captain will let you have your days off back," he says one sergeant told him. Then he heard Canfield's voice: "If I ever take your days off again, the next time you see weekends, you will be retired--or fired."

"I told him I'd do everything in my power to make his life miserable," recalls Canfield. The warning was not to be taken lightly. For Canfield has unabashedly demanded a minimum arrest quota from each of his 60 officers.

"I told my lieutenants the minimum I'll set . . . . I want two arrests within a six-week period, and five tickets a day," Canfield says. "It is a very reachable goal . . . . I'm not asking them to make two illegal arrests." CC anfield heads one of the three C sections of police officers that make up the 3rd District's 188-member uniformed command. He says arrests mean his officers are doing something to stop rising crime.

"It really frustrates me," Canfield says. "Every other business in society can require quotas. The dirty word in this department is quotas. In every job, you have an acceptable level of productivity . . . . No official will come out and say, 'This is the minimum amount acceptable.' "

Not everyone agrees with his policy, and the quota has sparked a heated debate among officers and officials at 3-D.

"We're not producing anything," says Capt. Joseph Maddox, who commands another 60 officers at 3-D. "This is not a business . . . . It's part of the justice system and it should be concerned about the application of principles of justice and not . . . industrial principles of management."

While many officers prosper under Canfield's system, others say that his artificial standard promotes quantity over quality and can result in questionable or unnecessary arrests, known as "hummers." They say that quotas, which are contrary to accepted D.C. police department policy, violate fundamental notions of justice and fairness.

"There are many, many ways to evaluate performance, and quota systems would be the least desirable," says Robert Angrisani of the International Association of Police Chiefs. "They are not accepted as a general practice that we know of anywhere."

At the end of last year, Canfield sent warning letters to 15 of his officers who failed to meet his quota. Those he considered extremely unproductive lost prized perks and cherished job assignments.

"Sure it's controversial . . . . It's the thing the department's tried to get away from," says William Freeman, a lieutenant who works with Canfield. "It used to be the old saying when a person got a ticket: 'Are you making your quota tonight, officer?' But for this district . . . and for the amount of crime out there, if you don't bring in a lockup, you're not doing your job."

The equation--how arrests affect the crime rate--is the heart of the dispute over quotas.

"They assume a mathematical relationship between the number of arrests and crimes committed," says Maddox. "Arrests have some function, but we don't know the point of diminishing returns. The officer might be in here on some nickel-and-dime arrest while someone's getting raped on his beat."

"It's all a numbers game; it's shuffle the numbers--how many people you locked up," says Arnold Moore, a veteran who failed to meet Canfield's quota last year.

"In roll call, the sergeant might say, 'We had 17 robberies yesterday.' Then he'll say, 'You did good yesterday. You made eight arrests.' Now those eight arrests were not robbers. They had nothing to do with the robberies. But the fact you made eight arrests made you look good."

One thing no one disputes is that Canfield puts his words into action. His lieutenants and sergeants believe their boss is unlike any other Washington police official. "He doesn't act like the old traditional captain. He gets out on the street and gets involved," said Lt. Robert Sheaffer.

Each night, his lieutenants handle the paperwork; he packs his shotgun under his car seat and eagerly sets out with his officers in their search for arrests.

Canfield is often the first to arrive if an officer needs assistance. He is not reluctant to make an arrest himself. Sometimes his presence overwhelms officers. Some complain that when they try to negotiate solutions, Canfield overrules them. Mimicks one officer, " 'Lock 'em up!' That's always his damn words."

Canfield says his requirement is conservative. "Less aggressive officers ignore stuff," he says. "We've got to get rid of our white hats. Our job is to introduce people to the criminal justice system, not to persuade them not to be introduced."

As a college student, Canfield proposed in a paper that police need not carry guns because, as he put it, "everything could be solved through verbal communication" and "there was no need to use violence.

"Boy, was I wrong," he says now.

He is combative, confrontive, at times almost bellicose. He tells his officers: "Try anything as long as it's legal." Last summer, he came to the rescue of residents of the Seventh Street area who angrily complained that their neighborhood had become a haven for drug users.

"I passed the word: 'I need volunteers. I'm going to attack Seventh and S,' " Canfield recalls. The widely publicized operation netted hundreds of arrests.

"The citizens loved it," Canfield says. "They were clapping and yelling. It was like victory in France."

But when Canfield turned on the fire hydrants, drenching pill pushers and pedestrians alike, Chief of Police Maurice Turner ordered it stopped.

Canfield says: "We can rationalize as much as we want, but in the final analysis, society pays us for one thing--to incarcerate people for violating the law . . . . If you can't find two people in six weeks who have violated the law, then we'd better send you back to the academy and show you some more arrest techniques."

This attitude has pitted Canfield T against some 3-D officers who believe police work is too subjective for such arbitrary requirements, that the emphasis on numbers has replaced good judgment.

Bobby Walker, who was disciplined by Canfield for failing to meet the quota last year, says: "To me, it's a bad way for an officer to feel that he has to go out and lock up somebody to get recognition from his superiors."

Arnold Moore agrees. "I don't fit the criteria of numbers. At the end of six weeks, I won't have a lot of arrests. Sure I will lock up your robbers, your murderers. But I don't lock up the guys drinking in the alley."

One officer who seems unconcerned about the requirement is William T. Carbone, whose 88 arrests in 1981 (including 25 felony arrests) easily exceeded the quota. "If you do your job, no one bugs you," says Carbone. "If you want to hide for eight hours, that's fine, but it comes down to statistics. It proves it."

Canfield says of Carbone: "If I want compassion, I'll get a less aggressive officer. If I want retribution--Carbone."

Carbone says it is difficult not to make the quota. "I tell people, 'If you've got a scout car, stay in your area. Something's going to happen.' All you've got to do is wait."

Maddox says he would rather not wait for crime to happen. He deploys his officers where their presence is most likely to deter it.

He stays in his office, peering with a cartographer's precision over neighborhood maps of 3-D, ascertaining block-by-block crime patterns to determine where he will place his officers.

Maddox has a philosopher's view of law enforcement. He is studying for his master's at Georgetown, practices yoga, and often quotes from Plato and Aristotle. Maddox likens 3-D to the universe: It is in a perpetual state of disorder.

Maddox's 1981 statistics show that while his officers were on duty, reported crime decreased by 3 percent. When Canfield's officers were working, reported crime went up 4 percent.

"We're not paid to get involved in statistical analysis of crimes versus the prevention of crime," Canfield says. Criminals "don't understand this philosophical nonsense."

The debate spills into the streets. One of Maddox's officers, Donald Arnett, suspects crime deterrence theories merely "move the crime around. You don't prevent [criminals] from going across the street and doing it there."

Whether Canfield or Maddox is correct, the fact is strategies change as work shifts change. A third captain who directs beat officers, Bruce MacDonald, has no articulated philosophy, yet his officers exceeded last year's arrest totals of Canfield's and Maddox's squads.

Deputy Chief Rodwell M. Catoe, who runs 3-D, disagrees with Canfield's quota system. "Quotas are dangerous," Catoe says. "When you set a quota, the officer can not do his job objectively . . . . Suppose the officer makes two arrests the first two weeks? What does he do the next four?"

Catoe said he and Canfield "have never been able to bridge" their different views of arrest requirements.

Officers who oppose Canfield's quotas sometimes feel the pressure.

"I guess I'm frowned on by officials," said Dwight A. Hunter, whose 27 arrests last year barely satisfied Canfield's standard. "An officer like me is termed 'complacent'. I'll admit I make the minimum number of arrests, two to three [in the six-week period], but I'm there when they call for help."

Russell Jackson says he once questioned an arrest a former partner made to end a family argument that Jackson believed could have been resolved through mediation.

"I totally felt the arrest wasn't justified. When we got to the station I said it was a bad arrest. I told him he should let the guy go. [It] was our presence there that was making the scene erupt . . . . He told me in so many words to 'kiss off.' " Jackson refused to work with the officer again.

Several officers, none of whom would speak for the record, described a kind of underground support system that exists to help officers with low arrest totals. Word will spread at roll call that an officer is low in productivity. "Everybody basically knows about it," explained one. Other officers who come upon minor disorderly complaints, he said, will "call the officer that's lowest in arrests and give him five cases."

Several veterans contend that in order to improve their arrest figures, some officers abuse the city's disorderly conduct law, which was enforced in thousands of cases last year.

One officer said it is easy for the police to "make somebody disorderly about something." Says a veteran: "If you run into a bad streak, . . . then you got to go out and 'hum' some poor son-of-a-bitch to make the quota." Another described the tendency to "overuse the pen" in writing up charges, adding "a little something [that] shouldn't be there.

"I've maybe thrown a verb in that made it look like more," the officer said, "not just the thing he was disorderly for . . . . It's a [criminal] record and it shouldn't be there."

Of the 1,480 persons citywide who challenged their disorderly conduct arrests last year, 52 percent were dismissed by the D.C. Corporation Counsel's office before the cases even went to court. But disorderly conduct cases account for only a small portion of 3-D's 10,000 arrests--one-quarter of the total made in Washington last year.

Canfield's leading officer, Gregory McClure, arrested 129 people in nine months last year, including 27 felons, for an average of more than 14 arrests per month. "It makes me feel good," says McClure. "I don't want to retire in 20 years and say that was a good 20 years of doing nothing."

Roy Derr, Canfield's sixth-highest arrest-maker, cites a financial incentive for his 64 arrests in 1981. The $4,000 he received in court overtime increased his $20,000 salary by 20 percent.

"Anyone who says they don't need money is a liar," says Derr. "If I get a chance, I love getting that money from court." CC anfield says that his top arrest-C makers--McClure (129 arrests), Carbone (88), Robert Moss (71); Richard Buresch (66); Clayton Leboo (65); and Derr (64)--at least temporarily removed more than 400 people, including 100 felons, from the streets of Washington last year. Canfield insists those arrests--and his enforcing of quotas--must have helped reduce the crime rate.

Some of the officers at the bottom of his list heeded his warning. After losing his weekends, James Alexander met Canfield's quota and ended up making 28 arrests for the year.

Bobby Walker stubbornly refused to go along. As a teen-ager, Walker was charged with auto larceny and given probation. He says his life turned around after that. He joined the first Job Corps police academy class and, at 21, was hired by the D.C. police department.

He says he knows how harmful an arrest record can be. Wherever possible, Walker believes people should not be arrested. He says that despite the large number of disorderly conduct arrests that are dismissed in court, the original arrest record remains on the books. When Walker encounters a disorderly situation on the street and suspects "the most [the person] will get is nothing," he says he will not make an arrest.

Last year Walker made seven arrests. "Disgraceful," declares Canfield, "an indication of a complete lack of responsibility."

Canfield sent Walker two letters of warning, which Walker threw away.

Walker's friends, sensing an impending confrontation, offered him credit for their arrests. Walker declined. Finally Canfield stripped the 12-year veteran of his neighborhood patrolling beat, leaving him unassigned, jumping from car to car like a rookie.

Walker, perpetually defiant, says that if there has been a failure of standards, it is Canfield's, not his.

"The only way my arrest numbers will increase," he insists, "is if I run into an increased number of situations where . . . I deem people need to be arrested."