Talk about life imitating art! Erik Estrada, who famously played Officer Frank Poncherello on CHiPs from 1977 until 1983, is now a police officer in real life.
The 67-year-old actor took to Twitter on Saturday, July 2, to let fans now that he is now patrolling the streets of St. Anthony, Idaho, as an officer for the Midwestern town’s police department.
OK fnf’s I’m now a police officer with the ST ANTHONY POLICE DEPT. pic.twitter.com/aAvG4l7SSf
— ERIK ESTRADA (@ErikEstrada) July 2, 2016
“OK fnf’s I’m now a police officer with the ST ANTHONY POLICE DEPT,” Estrada proudly wrote alongside a photo of himself rocking a navy blue uniform and leaning on a white motorcycle.
As a reserve officer, Estrada is focusing his efforts on protecting children from online predators. The dad of four, who’s married to wife Nanette Mirkovic, currently serves as a spokesperson for the Safe Surfin’ Foundation. The organization aims to inform parents, teachers and kids about internet safety.
Months after reaching out to the St. Anthony Police Department on behalf of his cause, Estrada was sworn into the administration on Tuesday by Mayor Neils Thueson.
“Education is the best protection, especially on the internet,” Estrada told the Idaho State Journal following his induction. “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.”
The New York City native, who grew up wanting to be a policeman, told Idaho’s KPVI that he is looking forward to lending his help to the community of St. Anthony.
“It’s a small community, and they have a need for what we want to do, and they will allow us to do it and, with their help, we can do it,” he shared. “The online sexual predator will take his time to groom a child on the internet. They will send them gifts, they will befriend them, they will be there for them and before you know it, the child has disclosed every bit of information of themselves. Now they know where they live.”
The town’s chief of police, Terry Harris, is thrilled about Estrada’s future endeavors to make St. Anthony a safer place. “As a community, it is really hard to imagine. I mean, come into a small community in Idaho and have somebody of his stature and notoriety here is,” Harris told KPVI. “I’m just flabbergasted that he was even willing to come here and do it.”
This isn’t the first time Estrada has joined a police force. In 2009, he was made a full-time deputy sheriff in Bedford, Virginia, by the Safe Surfin’ Foundation’s director, Sheriff Mike Brown. And in 2008, the Hollywood vet worked as a reserve officer in Muncie, Indiana, where he covered the midnight patrolling shift three days a week.