Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Porch Patrol eyes safer neighborhoods


Tuesday, August 9, 2011 12:00 am
By Ben Tinsley ben.tinsley@baytownsun.com

A pair of child advocates – one the mother of 1996 child murder victim Amber Hagerman – have created a new social network with a high emphasis on family values.

Porch Patrol, the brainchild of Angie Riley-Camp of Florida and Donna Norris of Texas, will hopefully connect like-minded individuals across the globe – including Baytown and other areas of Chambers and Harris counties, they said.

“We have all been involved in other social media sites such as MySpace and Facebook, and get so tired of the drama, negativity and games,” Norris said. “That is why we have Porch Patrol.”

Norris’ daughter Amber was 9 when she was abducted and murdered in Arlington in 1996. Her killer was never caught. Amber’s murder inspired the creation of the AMBER Alert system.

Norris and Riley-Camp – who work together – said they recognized the need for a centralized connection point for parents of today with the aforementioned “old fashioned family values.”

Porch Patrol launched on July 12, 2011, and now has 404 members, Norris said.

Like Facebook and MySpace, Porch Patrol allows users to inform one another about family, social, environmental, entertainment and personal interests through forums, groups, events, messages, wall posts and status updates.

“The times may have changed but a great many people still share the family values that most of us grew up with,” Riley-Camp said. “We have created an online neighborhood for people who share these values to connect using the technology of today to share the values of yesterday.”

Local Baytown writer Bert Marshall applauds the intentions of the Porch Patrol people but wonders if the site will work.

“Even though social websites like Facebook are trying to unite people together for a seemingly just cause, I doubt seriously if it will have the intended effect,” Marshall said. “The biggest impact it will have is a lot of people pushing the ‘like’ button.”

However, the focus isn’t completely on family values, Norris said.

Every member who registers will receive a free account with Amber Child Safety Systems to help protect their children.

Members are looking for volunteers to build neighborhoods.

“Ask your spouse, friends, coworkers, church members, neighbors, family, groups and anyone else you can think of who would appreciate this type of network to join us,” Norris said. “If each of us can bring in five new members and they can bring in five new members we can grow by leaps and bounds.”

But when it comes down to it, too much nostalgia may not be the best thing, Marshall said.

“I remember the days when people actually took responsibility for their actions and parented their children,” Marshall said. “It was called ‘maturing,’ but today folks are trying to regain their own youth instead, it seems, letting day care facilities or grandparents instruct and raise their kids while they work or live the high life.”

To inquire about the service please contact: Angie Riley-Camp; 727-244-8800
Fax: 727-584-1225; Email: contact@porchpatrol.com; www.porchpatrol.com

Note from BB: I have joined the website since I am very interested in protecting our neighborhoods across the country and my remarks to the Baytown Sun reporter should not be taken as negative, just skeptical of the success of the project.

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