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CHiPs Star Erik Estrada Becomes Real Life Police Officer

Actor Erik Estrada's career has come full circle after becoming a reserve police officer, 39 years after portraying a cop in hit TV show CHiPs.

The 67-year-old found fame in the 1970s on the police drama series, in which he portrayed California Highway Patrol Officer Frank Llewelyn 'Ponch' Poncherello, and on Saturday, the star was sworn in as a member of the St. Anthony Police Department reserve force in Idaho.

Estrada was officially inducted into the local police force by Mayor Neils Thueson during a ceremony at City Hall, and he has since been assigned to help authorities protect children from online predators as part of the new Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force.

"Education is the best protection especially on the Internet," he told the Idaho State Journal. "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."

News of Estrada's new side gig emerges as bosses behind the CHiPs franchise gear up for a return to the spotlight with an upcoming film adaptation of the TV hit. The movie, set for release next year, has been written and directed by Dax Shepard and stars Michael Pena in the role made famous by Estrada.


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