The changing face of police work in public perception

By Peter Hartlaub
Copyright 2007 San Francisco Chronicle
For a few years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, every kid under the age of 12 wanted to work in law enforcement.

Actor Erik Estrada, center, who played the role of a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer in the television series "CHiPs" applauds with real CHP officers during a speech honoring the 75th anniversary of the CHP and the original "Highway Patrol" television series, in 2004. (AP Photo)

Anybody who watched Ponch and Jon on "CHiPs" knew that cops got to ride cool motorcycles, hang out in swinging condominium complexes and take children who had just caused a 14-car freeway pileup to the local skate park. And inevitably, every one of those little scamps had a hot mom. What exactly was the downside to joining the force?

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