Erik Estrada, best known for his role as Officer Frank Poncherello from the 1970s TV series “CHiPS,” visited Victorious Life Church in Conyers to present his latest film, “Finding Faith,” on Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m.
The Christian based film told the based-on-true-life story of a 14-year-old girl named Faith who was kidnapped by an online predator. Estrada plays Sheriff Brown who was sent to help find and rescue the girl from being forced into human trafficking.
“I tell teenagers who think they may have run across an online predator to contact law enforcement right away because too many of them do not know the dangers,” Estrada said.
Executive Producers Lawrence Mortorff and Bedford County, Va. Sheriff Michael Brown work as advocates for increasing the awareness of online child predators. Brown, the founder of Safe Surfin,’ an organization that works with the U.S Department of Justice, school systems, libraries and law enforcement agencies to educate individuals, has chosen Estrada to be its national spokesperson.
“I’ve seen every nasty thing done to a child from eight months to 14 years old. Once a child loses their innocence, they may never get it back,” Estrada said.
“Finding Faith” features the Crimes Against Task Force Program which has trained over 31,000 law enforcement personnel and arrested more than 5,700 predators in 2011, according to their program summary. Church member Tracey Eldridge, who is the mother of two daughters, Alaysa, 9, and Ariya,11, said she was clueless about how much time children and teens are spending on the internet.
“You can have all kinds of rules for your children, but it is impossible to watch them 24/7. This movie was a reality check,” Eldridge said.
Sgt. Peggy Dunn of the Conyers Police attended the movie showing and said she highly recommends the film.
“For people who think nothing is going on, that is not the case. Kids are always on Facebook and Twitter and it is imperative that we do what we can to prevent sex offenders from harming children,” Dunn said.
The stop at Victorious Life Church, where about 50 people attended the screening, is one of the many visits on the National Awareness Tour. Since January, Estrada and his crew have made appearances to 80 churches and have 40 more stops to make by the end of December.
“Education is the best prevention. That’s why I’m traveling, to get in touch with our children. The bad guys are only one click away,” Estrada said.