SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The mayor has asked for an investigation into claims that Police Chief Richard Hongisto ordered officers to pull thousands of copies of a newspaper from racks because of a story criticizing him.

Hongisto, chief for just six weeks, denies ordering his officers to pick up copies of the twice-monthly San Francisco Bay Times, a free newpaper serving the gay and lesbian community.

The newspaper criticized Hongnisto for mass arrests at demonstrations protesting the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers charged with assault for beating black motorist Rodney King.

Hongisto, a former San Francisco officer, county sheriff, and Cleveland police chief, has been widely criticized for the arrests. About 2,000 people have been arrested since the April 29 verdict.

Bay Times editor and publisher Kim Cosaro accused Hongisto of ordering the removal.

Mayor Frank Jordan said late Tuesday he had asked the Police Commission to investigate. He said he also asked for an internal police investigation.

Jordan wouldn't rule out the possibility that Hongisto could be fired, but said, ''I'm not going to do anything prematurely here.''