Do you remember watching CHiPS? The hit TV series about California Highway Patrol Officers Jon Baker and Frank 'Ponch' Poncherello gave us entertainment every week for 6 years.
Jon Baker (played by Larry Wilcox) is the one who convinced Ponch to become a motor officer after they were both assigned to the same patrol car. Baker was constantly trying to keep Ponch in line during their time together.
Poncho was played by Erik Estrada, and of the two, he was definitely more of a trouble-maker than Baker.
Wilcox and Estrada were famously close on the show, but outside of CHiPs they never really got along too well. Just recently they reunited on Battle of the Network stars and seemed to have a great time.
While Wilcox continues to work in Hollywood to this day, starring in both TV shows and movies, Erik Estrada has taken a more noticeable step back from the spotlight. His appearance on Battle of the Network Stars was one of the few he's made in the past couple of years, but there's an amazing reason why!
The 67-year-old actor has been working side-by-side with multiple police departments for the past 13 years. However in July 2016, Estrada was officially sworn in as a reserve officer for the St. Anthony Police Department in Idaho.
Estrada will be working with the department's Internet Crimes Against Children task force, developing programs that will shut down online threats to children and also help find missing children.
“Education is the best protection especially on the Internet. Children should be educated in how to handle a chat room,” Estrada told the AP. “Don’t give out personal information. Certainly don’t give out your mother’s or father’s name or what school you go to. Don’t ever accept gifts. Certainly don’t ever go meet someone you’ve been chatting with. They’re not who they are. If they send a picture, that isn’t them.”
Estrada is looking for sponsors to help finance his team's projects.
“We are going to help provide equipment and software to Chief Harris and the police department,” Estrada told EastIdahoNews.com. “Chief Harris picked up the baton on this project. Once I met him, I knew his department was the one.”
As for people who might say this is a gimmick, Estrada says it's the opposite.
"I wanted to be a cop first and then I became an actor and then became a cop on TV. The TV thing allowed me to become a reserve officer in Indiana. I became a real cop,” he told the AP. “How many people have that kind of blessing? I’ve been blessed that way. I’ve been lucky.”
Congratulations to Erik Estrada on his new career path, and thank you for keeping our kids safe!