'CHiPs' Star Erik Estrada Joins Police Force in Idaho | NBC Bay Area

'CHiPs' Star Erik Estrada Joins Police Force in Idaho

The actor who portrayed California Highway Patrol Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello on "CHiPs" will help the department protect children from Internet predators

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    He cruised the freeways of Los Angeles as a motorycle officer on the TV show "CHiPs." Now, actor Erik Estrada has joined the reserve ranks of an Idaho town's police force to help protect children from online predators.

    Estrada, wearing his uniform, badge and bright smile, was sworn in Saturday at St. Anthony City Hall. He will work with the community's police department to help protect children from Internet predators, according to The Associated Press.

    The actor, who portrayed California Highway Patrol Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello on "CHiPs," will be part of the department's new Internet Crimes Against Children task force, according to NBC affiliate KPVI-TV.

    "Education is the best protection especially on the internet," Estrada said Saturday. "Children should be educated in how to handle a chat room. 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 wanted to become a police officer when he was young, but started acting during high school. He landed his role on "CHiPs" at age 27, starring alongside actor Larry Wilcox, who portrayed motorcycle patrol partner Jon Baker.

    He continued acting after "CHiPs" and became a reserve officer in Muncie, Indiana, where he worked a night shift and later met members of the department assigned to Internet crimes.

    "I wanted to be a cop first and then I became an actor and then became a cop on TV," he told The Associated Press. "The TV thing allowed me to become a reserve officer in Indiana. I became a real cop. How many people have that kind of blessing? I've been blessed that way. I've been lucky."