It may well turn out to have been much ado about nearly nothing, but Alexandria's city hall continues in an uproar that has soured old political friendships, puzzled the public and left everything else in suspense. It began with allegations in a local newspaper, the Alexandria Port Packet, about the handling of a drug investigation by Public Safety Director Charles T. Strobel last year. After heated arguments about who should investigate what and how, a grand jury was put to work on the matter -- which was a fair and independent way to proceed. But this week, Mayor Charles E. Beatley suddenly called for Mr. Strobel to be placed on administrative leave after learning that federal authorities have begun a criminal investigation of the city's police department. Yesterday, the city council wisely rejected his call.

The decision came after the special counsel for the five-week-old grand jury, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan, urged deferral of any action until the jury has reported -- which he said probably would be within a week. "Suffice it to say that some of what you have read in the newspapers is just not supported" by testimony and documents placed before the special grand jury, Mr. Horan said.

Certainly a thorough, independent investigation is important, in fairness to everyone involved. Still, as of now there is no concrete public evidence of criminal wrongdoing of a serious nature. A little patience is in order at this point -- on the part of the mayor, council members and citizens -- until the results of official fact-finding are made public.