Trooper Brian Medeiros of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: He got to meet his idols.
Actors Erik Estrada, Larry Wilcox and Robert Pine starred in “CHiPs,” a television show about patrolmen on cycles. They’re in town because they’re among celebrity guests at the Tulsa Pop Culture Expo, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 4, at the Renaissance Hotel. Before the pop culture convention began, Estrada, Wilcox and Pine met their real-life counterparts Friday morning.
OHP troopers traveled to the parking lot of KTUL channel 8 to interact with the actors, who signed autographs, posed for photographs and engaged the troopers in conversation.
“I feel right at home with you guys,” Pine said.
Among the troopers who met the actors was Medeiros, who said, “This is really awesome for these guys to come here. I grew up watching ‘CHiPs’ as a kid, and I always thought that would be the greatest job in the world to be a motorcycle officer. I got on the Highway Patrol in 1995, which we did not have motorcycles at that time. We got our first motorcycles in 1999, (and there were) just two. I got to get into the unit in 2001, and now, I am living my dream because of these gentlemen right here.”
Medeiros said “CHiPs” was one of two reasons he went into law enforcement. The other: When he was a kid, he filled up a gas can for his mother at a convenience store and an officer gave him a ride home.
Pine, when talking with OHP troopers, said he feels fortunate and appreciative that the TV show (it aired from 1977-83) has been an inspiration for viewers who pursued careers in law enforcement.
“Who would have thunk it?” Estrada said. “A lot of the guys today are cops because they kind of grew up watching this stuff and enjoying it. It’s a really nice thing, you know?”
Estrada said being an actor was his second career choice. First choice? He wanted to be a New York cop.
“When I was at the age of 4, my mother dated a cop after we pushed my dad out the door because he was null and void and stuck on heroin, so she got rid of him,” Estrada said. “Then she started dating a cop. The first man I ever loved was a cop. I was going to be one.”
What happened? Estrada said he was 18 when a pretty girl he knew was into acting.
“I figured, I grew up on the streets of Harlem. I can act,” he said. “So I auditioned and I got in and, the next thing, I got bit by the acting bug. I didn’t want to be a cop anymore. I decided to be an actor. Then I ended up as America’s cop.”
Estrada is a supporter of law enforcement causes, indicating he is a reserve deputy in West Virginia. In 2016, he was sworn in as a reserve officer for the St. Anthony Police Department in Idaho, and he has helped the department with needs.
After the “CHiPs” actors had been at the meet-and-greet for a while, two additional OHP troopers rolled up on cycles. Estrada didn’t wait. He immediately walked over to introduce himself.
“This is pretty cool,” trooper Chris Simpson said after meeting the actors. “They’re very personable. They seem like genuinely good guys.”
Medeiros presented the actors with OHP shirts. He referred to them as “big-time idols.”
“I’m very grateful for them coming to Oklahoma and for what they are doing, but also the reason why they are here,” he said.
The Tulsa Pop Culture Expo (tulsapopcultureexpo.com) benefits Tulsa Pop Kids, which seeks to use pop culture to aid literacy.