Getty Images, Twitter.com/ErikEstrada/
Source: Getty Images, Twitter.com/ErikEstrada/

Erik Estrada from 'CHiPs' Is Now Living the Ordinary Life & Working as a Policeman after the Show

Titi Dokubo
Feb 22, 2022
08:20 P.M.
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Erik Estrada played the motorcycle-riding Californian Highway Patrol officer Francis (Frank) Llewelyn "Ponch" Poncherello from "CHiPs," the N.B.C. show from 1977 to 1983.

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More than 40 years after the show ended, he is now living an ordinary life, and his real-life job is the same as the one he was playing all those years ago.

Erik Estrada grew up in New York City's Spanish Harlem. He had an incredible journey from the projects in Spanish Harlem to the Hollywood Hills, as he shared in his autobiography, "Erik Estrada…My Road from Harlem To Hollywood."

His acting break came when he starred as a streetwise character in "The Cross and the Switchblade." In "The New Centurions," he starred as a rookie policeman; in "Dos Mujeres, Un Camino," he starred as Johnny and more.

Despite being Latino, he learned to speak fluent Spanish and discovered his cultural heritage as an adult. His lifetime achievements in television were honored by Berkeley University Popular Culture Society.

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Estrada also supports commendable charitable causes such as Cops for Tots, CHiPs for Kids, United Way, the Thalians, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen, Aids L.A., and more.

Erik Estrada at the premiere of "CHiPS" on March 20, 2017, in Hollywood | Source: Getty Images

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VETERAN ACTOR

While working on "CHiPs," Estrada revealed that the show was made for young people as it taught kids not to be afraid of the uniform while showing them that they could have a relationship with law enforcement.

Being a community-minded and family-hour show, they never drew their guns. When Estrada got the role on "CHiPs," he didn't know how to ride a bike, but they brought in a motorcycle instructor who taught him everything.

The show also helped him open up a window for him to be choosy about future roles and changed the perspective of the stereotypical Latino in television back then. In 2007, after his famous portrayal, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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WHY HE WANTED TO BE A COP

After his mother kicked out his drug addict father, she began dating a cop who worked for the C.S.I. As a kid, Estrada loved the man, and when he grew up, he decided he would be a New York cop.

He almost fulfilled that dream but then met a girl who was acting. Estrada knew that if he wanted to get close to her, he would have to go into acting.

Erik Estrada attends the "Walk of Fame" at Dragon*Con on September 1, 2007 | Source: Getty Images

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As Estrada got into acting to get close to the girl, he got bitten by the acting bug. He told his mother that he would try acting first before joining the force.

His mother cried, and he had to make her a deal. Estrada said if he couldn't make a profession out of acting by the time he turned 30, he would get back to New York and join the force. Luckily, he became a successful actor.

Erik Estrada poses for a picture at the 85th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on November 27, 2016 | Source: Getty Images

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However, when Estrada took the opportunity to do a reserve shift of seven weeks in Muncie, Indiana. He said,

"I wanted to see if I still had that passion as a child, my first passion. I did. I realized that I did, so I stayed.”

As a real-life cop, he focuses on internet crimes against children, promotes internet safety, and promotes internet safety education in schools, because he wants children to be safe in chat rooms.

Erik Estrada at the 2016 Chiller Theater Expo on April 22, 2016 | Source: Getty Images

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Estrada has continuously supported police officers' organizations globally and fulfilled his childhood dreams by becoming a sworn reserve police officer for the Muncie Police Department.

He later moved to Indiana for over two years before relocating to Virginia with the Bedford County Sheriff Department, becoming an I.C.A.C. investigator.

Erik Estrada with his wife Nanette and their daughter Francesca as he was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame | Source: Getty Images

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INSIDE HIS DAY JOB

Estrada was introduced to the Safe Surfin' Foundation while working in Virginia. The foundation's mission is to educate all school-age children on the dangers of the internet and the predators sometimes affiliated with it.

Being concerned for the safety of these children and his daughter, he immediately committed to this crusade. Estrada hopes for a future where they would implement internet safety & education in all schools for children K - 12.

After joining S.S.F., he became their national spokesperson and a Federal Investigative Officer for the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).

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Estrada helped establish an I.C.A.C. task force unit for the St. Anthony Idaho Police Department. The Department of Justice and the U.S. Marshall Service recognized his dedication and service to protecting children from sexual predators on the internet.

In addition, Estrada has been instrumental in educating people on the dangers of drugs, the importance of car seats for all children, and internet predators being the genuine dilemma facing children.

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He also revealed that when he goes to arrest internet offenders and child pornographers, they always seem surprised to see him. They always look around for cameras and know that it is an actual situation after being cuffed.

Despite bringing these people to justice, he knows this is not what he will do forever. Estrada said he has limited time to work with cases like that because the child stuff can affect the psyche of one's mind.

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A COMMITTED FAMILY MAN

Off-screen, Estrada, one of the few actors to be law enforcers, is a committed family man and a true professional in his craft who prides himself as a home handyman.

He constantly enhances things around the home where he lives with his wife, Nanette, and daughter, Francesca. He also has two grown sons, Anthony and Brandon.

His daughter is slowly following in his footsteps as she started doing commercials when she was 12. She nailed her first commercial with A.I.G. and has an acting credit for "The Talk," a series.

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His average life as a husband, father, and an ordinary civilian includes cooking with his wife. He acts as her sous chef in the kitchen.

When they are not cooking, he takes to his Twitter to share how they go grocery shopping while keeping safe during the quarantine period.

Estrada also spends time hanging out with his dogs. He loves playing with them, and he posts photos from his job showing that he never gave up riding motorcycles.

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