PORAC President Brian Marvel and Vice President Damon Kurtz traveled to Burbank on September 30 to record three special episodes of the On the Job With PORAC podcast at the 911MEDIA and American Police Beat studio. The lineup featured former San Diego Police Officer Otis Gallop, who is currently an actor and technical consultant for the TV show S.W.A.T.; actor Joe Mantegna, who stars on the hit CBS series Criminal Minds; and former CHiPs actor and current California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) Credit Union ambassador Erik Estrada. All three went into detail about their television roles and their law enforcement experience.
Each actor discussed his personal support for law enforcement and how that correlates to the parts he plays. Gallop’s segment was part of the new “Life After the Badge” series, which will talk to numerous retired law enforcement officers about the paths they have taken after leaving their respective agencies. Gallop, who worked with Marvel at the San Diego Police Department, has been busy in Hollywood. He is the script and costume advisor for S.W.A.T., a job he earned with 28 years of experience in law enforcement. S.W.A.T. is known for its realistic and frank depiction of crime, and its producers rely on Gallop to judge its authenticity. It’s his job to make sure the show accurately portrays real-life police work, down to details like the way actors hold their weapons or their tactical approaches.
“It’s been a great experience,” Gallop said. “It’s kind of a unique position; there’s only a few positions like that in television and it’s not on every show, and our show is pretty much law enforcement heavy because it is S.W.A.T. It’s been great.”
Much like Gallop, Mantegna, known for playing an FBI supervisory special agent on Criminal Minds, always wanted to be a police officer. Since he was 10 years old, Mantegna dreamed of joining law enforcement and rising through the ranks. Unlike Gallop, however, he went straight to television stardom. He has always been a strong supporter of U.S. law enforcement and has appeared at numerous charitable events and memorials. In fact, he named his Criminal Minds character after real-life LAPD Sergeant David Rossi, who testified during the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995. Mantegna noted his “poise” and “intelligence” while answering questions from the defense and vowed to someday honor his name with a character.
“I said ‘someday, if given the opportunity, I’m going to name a character after this guy,’ not just because of him but just to kind of make up for the crap that police have to take in their day-to-day life,” he said.
In his character’s office in the show, there’s even a framed photo of Mantegna with the real-life David Rossi. The two became friends shortly after his character premiered on television.
Estrada is the only one of the three who is currently a law enforcement official. In addition to his work with the CAHP Credit Union, he has served as a reserve officer in St. Anthony, Idaho, since 2016. When he was growing up, his plan was to join the police academy out of high school and work on the force until retirement. However, he caught the acting bug thanks to a friend’s recommendation and never looked back. He bounced around before landing it big on the popular television series CHiPs as character Frank “Ponch” Poncherello in 1977.
Since then, he has appeared in over 80 different movies and television shows. He will be partnering with PORAC again at the 67th annual Conference of Members in Palm Springs. Join us there on November 22–24 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, and don’t miss your chance to take a picture with Estrada at the CAHP Credit Union vendor booth! Visit our website for more information.
On the Job With PORAC is a monthly podcast that addresses a wide variety of topics ranging from legislation to public safety while providing up-to-date information on officer benefits, training and advocacy. It is a way for our members, other law enforcement professionals and the public to hear directly from the source concerning law enforcement and the issues that matter. Episode 23, featuring Estrada, is available at
PORAC.org/podcast. The Mantegna episode will be released on November 15 and the Gallop interview on December 15, so be sure to listen for more insights and behind-the-scenes anecdotes from these famous TV cops!