Police in Laurel cracked down on "Debby Does Dallas." In Arlington authorities drew the line at "Insatiable," while the list of triple X-rated movie video cassettes banned in neighboring Fairfax County includes "The Other Side of Julie," "Sex Boat" and many others.

These "hard-core" blue movies, most of them available in video stores in the District, have been outlawed in some outlying areas--particularly Northern Virginia--as police and prosecutors move in on the booming video cassette market, using "community standards" to separate the obscene from the merely sexually suggestive.

"They are now fully aware of what community standards are," said Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Henry Hudson of one raided business that agreed to stop distributing such films. "They promised voluntary compliance and that was the objective we were seeking."

Prosecution of pornography is nothing new, but some argue that these cases are different. Few involve businesses that traffic specifically in sex-related products. In most of the video stores raided by local police, adult movies constituted no more than 25 percent of their stock. Their main business is general distribution films like "On Golden Pond" or popular R-rated movies like "Body Heat."

Moreover, the cassettes are marketed only for use in homes--not in peep shows or adult theaters. Because the films cost $60 or more each, most are rented, not sold, through clubs or exchange groups. Even then the market is limited to those who own expensive but increasingly popular television video recorders.

The crackdown on XXX-rated video cassettes is not unique to the Washington area. Several months ago, Virginia Beach took three local video stores to court for selling or renting "Behind the Green Door," "Deep Throat" and "Lesbian Orgy." And in Dade County, Fla., police raided 34 video cassette exchange clubs last month, seizing 175 different adult movies.

"This is a unique situation since the films are not being exhibited," said Miami attorney Mark Krasnow, who represents 15 of the Florida video clubs that banded together and filed civil suit against Dade County. "There is something to be said for the regulation of adult book stores because of the adverse impact on neigborhoods. But here we have a situation where there is no economic detriment, no increased possibility of crime, where we have police in a very Orwellian atmosphere attempting to regulate material for use in people's own private living rooms."

Krasnow argued that video cassettes should be exempted from obscenity laws because they are virtually inaccessible to all but consenting adults.

The local crackdown on pornographic video cassettes has resulted mostly in voluntary compliance with what officials call "community standards," the rule of thumb set by the U.S. Supreme Court as the definition of obscenity. In Arlington, for instance, charges against the Record Den on Columbia Pike, where police seized cassettes of "Insatiable" and another film on Nov. 29, were dropped after the owners agreed to stop selling or renting objectionable material.

In 1981, Fairfax police took action against 10 video stores, confiscating a long list of pornographic films. Since then, police have continued routine checks at the stores, though nothing more has been seized. Police spokesman Warren Carmichael said new store owners are routinely advised of the standards Fairfax expects them to live by. In both Arlington and Fairfax, prosecutors maintain that local standards do not bar all X-rated films, a category that includes "Last Tango in Paris."

"The fact that a movie is X-rated does not make it obscene," said Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan. "The rule of thumb we use is to send two police officers out and if they consider it obscene, normally it will convince 12 jurors." Horan and Hudson said obscene films usually involve particularly graphic sexual behavior.

Still, most merchants seem to prefer to err on the side of caution. "Selling [X-rated] films is verboten here," said Lynne Warrick, co-owner of the Stage Door. "We are not permitted to sell or rent [X-rated] movies in Fairfax County, that's a matter of law. We tell everyone they have to go to the District or Maryland."

One store in Arlington also refers customers to Alexandria where, so far, police have not brought any cases against local video stores. "We would take it on a case by case basis," said Assistant Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney Richard Mendelsohn. "We would wait until we had a complaint."

Police in Montgomery County also said no obscenity charges have been brought against video stores there recently. In Prince George's, an obscenity case was brought last year against the owner of American Video after a Laurel policeman seized a tape of "Debby Does Dallas." The owner pleaded guilty to a pornography charge in Circuit Court and paid a $100 fine, said Assistant State's Attorney Raymond Ciarrochi. An American Video employe said this week that the store has since moved to Howard County.

Since that case, Ciarrochi said, Prince George's has brought no other charges against video stores, although it has continued prosecution against traditional "adult" book stores. Some argue that that in itself reflects a double standard by police.

"It has been my experience that this type of enforcement . . . is aimed at particular stores in particular neighborhoods," said Hyattsville attorney Fred Joseph, who represents several clients charged in obscenity cases. "It's the same argument that was applied to the ban on head shops when the same items could be bought in hardware stores or department stores."

Still, legal uncertainties were enough to prevent Schwartz Brothers, a Lanham-based company that has become the region's largest distributor of video cassettes, from entering the "hard-core" field. "We've had a lot of pressure from manufacturers to carry those products," said Charles Meyers, a buyer for the company. "Our lawyers investigated and what they came up with was that Maryland had a bunch of vague laws and seeing as we are a public company, we decided not to do it."

Washington, like other urban centers, is more liberal in its definition of obscenity than some of its neighboring suburbs. Under standards set by the U.S. Attorney, obscenity cases are only brought under extreme circumstances when the material displays child pornography, bestiality, hard-core sado-masochism or other particularly offensive sexual behavior. Detective Joseph Haggerty of the city's Morals Division said he knew of no prosecutions against video stores in the city.

As a result, video stores in the District use their own discretion. Of the 2,000 cassettes in stock at Video Supermarket on Connecticut Avenue, manager Elmer Cooper estimates about 15 percent are adult films. The rental prices for these is $5 a day.

"We get a lot of Virginia customers," said Cooper. "I don't mind at all in one way. But in another way, I do mind. I think those policies infringe on their civil liberties."

Across the country, standards on "hard-core" pornographic films vary. "These are tricky issues in the video age," said George Atkinson, president of Video Stations, a California distribution company that also has 500 franchises across the country. "What might apply in Los Angeles might get you in a lot of trouble in Texas. What we tell people is that they have to fend for themselves and to use common sense."