A D.C. police officer was charged yesterday with destruction of property after he allegedly punctured the tire of a car he had been pursuing so that it could not be driven away, police reported.

They said the officer, William J. Frye III, 26, who has been on the force for two years, was arrested on a warrant issued in D.C. Superior Court after an investigation of the Monday night incident by the police department's Internal Affairs Division.

Gary Hankins, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police labor committee, the bargaining agent for D.C. police officers, called Frye's arrest "asinine," and said the organization has provided an attorney to defend him in court.

Hankins said Frye's action was a smart move. He said the intent was to disable the car to avoid the possibility of another high-speed chase through Georgetown.

However, said Inspector Jimmy Wilson, "We can't have police running around slashing tires."

Frye, assigned to the 2nd District, was on routine patrol in a marked police vehicle about 9:45 p.m. Monday when he spotted a Corvette driving erratically and attempted to stop it, according to a police spokesman.

Instead, the car's driver raced off, ran three stoplights and lost him, the spokesman said.

A short time later, the spokesman said, Frye spotted the vehicle abandoned near 28th and N streets NW, about four blocks from where the chase had begun. Frye used a pen knife to puncture one of the car's tires so he could search on foot for the men he had seen in the car earlier, police said.

However, they said, the tire apparently had some kind of sealant and did not go flat. About 15 minutes later, another officer on patrol spotted two men in the car, stopped it and arrested the driver.

Police identified the suspect as Michael S. Owens, 35, of 4032 Spring Run Ct., Chantilly. They said he was charged with reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police said Frye has been placed on leave while the case is pending in Superior Court.