One of Savannah's top-ranking police officers said yesterday that the police chief threatened her with demotion because she contradicted him at a funeral on the protocol for officers wearing black mourning bands on their badges.

Maj. Gerry Long, 53, said that she opted to retire after a 30-year career rather than face being demoted to captain by Savannah-Chatham County Police Chief Willie Lovett.

At the Nov. 12 funeral for retired Chatham County Police Chief Thomas Sprague, according to interviews, the chief had told Long and other officers to remove their mourning bands because Sprague had not died in the line of duty. Long took hers off, but told investigators that she let a subordinate sitting beside her know that she disagreed with the order.

Savannah police spokesman Julian Miller said that it wasn't the first time the chief had spoken to Long about being insubordinate.

"In a paramilitary organization, you don't dispute what the top person says," Miller said. "He's got to know when he issues an order that it's carried out."