(continued from pg.14)
Faulkner isn't the only police widow Nathan's come into contact with since writing the book. Kimberly McLaughlin, widow of Officer John McLaughlin, was present for a Barnes and Noble book signing in late August.
"The most surreal moment of this whole thing was standing up in Barnes and Noble, reading about investigator John McLaughlin while his widow and daughter were sitting five feet away from me," Nathan said. "After the reading, I handed her the book and she grabbed onto me. It was incredible."
Last summer, Nathan and his best friend, David Basner, honored McLaughlin's husband, among many others, during "Police Memorial Week," when they went to each police district in Philadelphia, as well as Faulkner's grave. They gave each district a carnation with a blue ribbon around it to commemorate the slain officers.
"You could really see there's a line between civilians and police officers," Basner said. "Gabe's working toward breaking down that barrier, and reuniting the police with the community. Police aren't brutal forces out to get the common folk, they're just people." Nathan aims to break through this barrier with his book. He has observed and researched the relationship between civilians and officers and hopes to bring both parties closer through education.
"My goal is to shock people into awareness, to get them to wake up," he said. "I think a lot of times, civilians and police officers are guilty of living in separate cocoons. It's very difficult for them to branch over, because they only come together when there's a problem. My goal is to assist civilians in learning the way I learned of this problem. When a civilian gets up and defends police officers, especially a civilian with no familial ties to police officers, it's different than blue defending blue."
At Muhlenberg, Nathan has been allowed to continue his exploration of the topic of slain police officers, in addition to other related issues, such as capital punishment. He has been provided with a forum to discuss his cause in classes and also through writing opinion pieces for the Muhlenberg Weekly. He has also combined the topic of law enforcement with his theater interests and has written a one-act play about the murders of two police officers.
Though he has no desire to enter the entertainment industry after he graduates, he is not certain about his future in law enforcement.
"I've been turning that question over in my head since I was 16 years old," he said. "My first car was an ex-police car. I'll never forget what it was like to be behind the wheel of that car. I somehow think no matter how much I try to avoid it, I'll be behind the wheel of one of those cars again."
He has genuine hesitations about the field, however, especially keeping in mind his tendencies to "rock the boat."
"I'm not afraid of getting into trouble," he said. "I almost want to shake things up, but a police officer's widow told me, don't mistake empathy toward police officers for wanting to run toward gunshots. I think that's very true."
Whether Nathan finds himself wearing blue one day or not, it's clear that his ambitious nature will open many doors, even if he has to prop them himself.
"Gabe is filled with emotion and devotion toward this cause," Basner said. "He continues to astound me day in and day out. I would be scared and worried for him if he chose to become a police officer, but I'm proud of him no matter what he does. If it's really what he wants to do, I say go for it."
Nathan plans on writing another book on the subject of law enforcement, more specifically on the relationship between civilians and police officers.
"I'm really growing concerned about people's view of law enforcement and law enforcement's view of people," he said. "I think that more strides need to be taken by both parties in order to reach a greater common ground, and a greater understanding of each other. The funny thing about differences is that we focus so much on them that we neglect to see how similar we are."