APD officer facing charges of DUI

Charges could be filed pending results of blood alcohol test

An Altoona Police Department officer faces charges of driving under the influence after his arrest Sunday for erratic driving.

Erik Stirk, 40, who was off-duty, was stopped at 11:19 a.m. on the 700 block of Sixth Avenue, according to the department’s arrest docket and Police Chief Janice Freehling, who confirmed Stirk’s arrest.

Charges against Stirk will be filed if tests show his blood alcohol level was at least 0.08 percent, Freehling said.

The arresting officer ordered the tests based on field observations, said Freehling, adding that she

hadn’t yet reviewed any written reports of the incident.

The department will conduct an internal investigation followed by “appropriate measures,” if charges are filed, she said.

“Discipline will be involved if it’s in fact DUI,” she said. “He will be treated like everyone else suspected of driving under the influence.”

Asked to comment further on the arrest in the context of two recent legal cases involving officers in her department, Freehling spoke briefly of “things I don’t like to see happen.”

Sgt. Matthew Starr was charged last month with 10 felony counts for allegedly cheating the police department to satisfy a gambling habit, while patrolman Julie Kelleher was cited for running a red light this month, after she crashed her SUV while speeding with sirens and lights to the site of another crash.