Erik Estrada
Erik Estrada (Center) is sworn in as a reserve officer at St. Anthony Police Department in southeastern Idaho. Twitter/Erik Estrada

You might remember him as Frank "Ponch" Poncharello in the TV series “CHiPs,” but Erik Estrada just happened to become a real life police officer.

The 67-year-old actor was sworn in on Saturday by Mayor Neils Thueson as a reserve officer of St. Anthony, a small city of 3,500 in southeastern Idaho.

Estrada plans to work with the police department to protect children from Internet predators in the new Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

He’s spent the past decade working with various law enforcement departments to keep kids safe, from car seat safety to D.A.R.E., a campaign against drugs, and has most recently focused on internet safety and protecting kids from online predators.

“The online sexual predator will take his time to groom a child on the internet,” Estrada said, according to NBC station KPVI.

“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,” Estrada added.

“Education is the best protection, especially on the internet,” he told the Standard 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,” Estrada said.

“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 grew up wanting to become a police officer, thanks to his mother’s friendship with an exceptionally good cop. However, when he was in high school, he had a crush on a young woman, who was part of the drama club, so Estrada began to pursue acting to impress her. When he told his mother of his change of plans, he promised her to become a police officer if acting didn’t work out by the time he was 30.

Estrada landed his role as “Ponch” in “CHiPs” when he was 27, and has been able to provide for his mother ever since. Nevertheless, he finds himself going back to law enforcement every now and then. He’s also served as a deputy sheriff in Virginia, where he investigated Internet crimes against children, and a reserve police officer in Muncie, Indiana.

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