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5 Questions about 'Finding Faith'

WANT TO GO?

"Finding Faith"

WHERE: Mount Vernon Baptist Church, 2150 Mount Vernon Road, Hurricane

WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: Free, but love offering accepted

INFO: 304-757-9110 or www.findingfaithfilm.com

NOTE: The film also screens at 7 p.m. Friday at Chestnut Ridge Church, Morgantown; 6 p.m. Sunday at South Parkersburg Baptist Church, Monday at Kirby Assembly of God, Hampshire County (time TBA) and 6:30 p.m. March 7 at Calvary Assembly of God, Beckley. CHARLESTON, W.Va. - This week, actor Erik Estrada will be in the area for showings of "Finding Faith," the feature-length film about Internet safety in which he stars. 

It follows the story of a Virginia teenager who is kidnapped after inadvertently making contact with an Internet stalker. State police were involved in the filming of the project, which is based on a true story that ended in West Virginia.

Gazz spoke with West Virginia State Police spokesperson Sgt. Michael Baylous about the film and why he thinks parents, and perhaps teens, should see it.

Q: What's "Finding Faith" and who's involved?

A: "It's a film funded by the Safe Surfin' Foundation, a group that helps law enforcement educate the public about Internet safety.

"The film was the idea of Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia, who is the expert when it comes to Internet crimes again children. He put the film together and asked Erik Estrada to play him.

"Liberty University is involved, but I'm not sure how much. Also, we're involved. The film features some of our cruisers, a few of our troopers and we loaned them some uniforms."

Q: Why is Brown an expert?

A: "He's been involved with Internet crimes for many, many years. He's nationally known and has helped enlist the help of people like Shaquille O'Neal and Erik Estrada to help bring more attention to problems about Internet crimes against children.

"Sheriff Brown has a real passion for protecting our children. He was responsible for establishing a relationship with the West Virginia State Police and getting us started with an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force."

Q: Is Internet safety a big problem in West Virginia?

A: "It's not specific to West Virginia, but I think we're ahead of the curve in some ways on investigating it. We have some outstanding investigators, and we work with both WVU and Marshall, where we have digital forensic units. These units can analyze a computer or device for child pornography or sexting.

"We have a real collaborative effort going on, but I wouldn't say that West Virginia has less or more of a problem with Internet safety. It's worldwide."

Q: Will Erik Estrada be at these screenings?

A: "Yes. I actually spent a little time with him five years ago. He's just a fantastic guy. He'll sign autographs and pose for pictures. He's just a really down-to-earth and funny guy.

 "People know him as Ponch [from the TV show 'ChiPS'], but they know it's not his name. They'll come up to him and stumble on the name, and Erik will just reach out his hand and tell them he's Tony Orlando."

Q: Why should someone go and see this film, and who should see this film?

A: "Law enforcement can't do it all. Everything we do relies heavily on the public for assistance. We need eyes and ears out there.

"We believe parents need to take an active role in the lives of their children. Children crave authoritative figures, structure and discipline in their lives. They don't need more buddies. They need parents to take an active role, and we feel like this film can open up a discussion with parents and children about Internet safety.

"The film is made with the intention of families seeing it; it's for parents and children. I have an 11-year-old who is kind of mature for his age and that seems appropriate, but parents really need to make that decision on their own."

WANT TO GO?

"Finding Faith"

WHERE: Mount Vernon Baptist Church, 2150 Mount Vernon Road, Hurricane

WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: Free, but love offering accepted

INFO: 304-757-9110 or www.findingfaithfilm.com

NOTE: The film also screens at 7 p.m. Friday at Chestnut Ridge Church, Morgantown; 6 p.m. Sunday at South Parkersburg Baptist Church, Monday at Kirby Assembly of God, Hampshire County (time TBA) and 6:30 p.m. March 7 at Calvary Assembly of God, Beckley.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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