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Neighborhood watch groups online gaining popularity

Digital Neighborhood Watch

Pensacola, Fla. (WEAR) - Social media is driving more and more people to join neighborhood watch groups online.

They've become a popular way to keep neighbors safe and informed.

Facebook has become a powerful tool for people who want to be good neighbors in a digital age.

For instance, Jacqueline Rogers is a stay-at-home mom.

When she's not home schooling her kids you'll find her on the computer managing the Escambia Citizens Watch (ECW) Facebook group.

"We need a voice because people are connected in the political world but I don't think citizens are," Rogers said.

She felt there was no platform for residents to share their opinions outside of the allotted time at county meetings.

"People are making decisions for our communities and we don't always have a voice," she said.

Rogers created the page after being unsatisfied with county leaders.

She said, "You have to have one other person I made my son who was in college who had no interest the first member so that's what with. I put it on my personal page little by little a couple friends would join."

The page has now ballooned to more than 3,300 members.

Another 300 people's requests to join are pending.

Rogers said ECW serves as a digital townhall hall where issues can be addressed.

"This is more government focused," Rogers said. "I think it's a way to give input. I know the commissioners are listening. There's one commissioner that participates in the forum but I know there are others that they've made comments on things that I've said. They've corrected me when I've said things wrong."

There's several groups and pages just like this one on Facebook dedicated to Northwest Florida communities.

Rogers encourages others to become active in this digital neighborhood watch era.

"I have met people that I never would have met like young people that really have opposite opinions and I've been able to listen to them and say, 'OK, I get that. I may not agree with everything but I can where you're coming from.'"

The internet is full of trolls looking to stir trouble.

Rogers has criteria and rules in place to avoid the page from losing its focus.

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