From English & History Nerd to Portland Police Cop

Interview of Captain David Abrahamson

By Jathan Janove

VOA Oregon board member and Portland Police Captain David
Abrahamson followed an unusual path to a law enforcement career. “I had planned
to be an English and history teacher,” he says. “Although I played football, I
was a bit of an academic nerd.”

Things changed after he got a job at Portland Public Schools
with campus safety. “Initially I worked in dispatch and later became part of
the Portland School Police Department.

“I never envisioned myself as a cop. I held the stereotype of people who are rough and brash. But my thinking changed after I got involved with the Police Activities League and saw how valuable its work was, and the heart of officers volunteering with underprivileged youth in our communities and relationships made.”

Captain Abrahamson’s connection with VOA Oregon began in 2009 when he worked with the Bureau’s Service Coordination Team, which works with social service providers and high-risk clientele. He saw first-hand the success of VOA Oregon’s wraparound services.

In 2017, the Portland Police Chief asked for a volunteer to serve on VOA Oregon’s board. Captain Abrahamson readily accepted and has felt privileged to support VOA Oregon as a board member ever since. “I have been impressed with the caliber of our board members, and the intentionality, compassion, and servant heart of those invested within the organization.”

“I share VOA Oregon’s mission to create reset opportunities,” he says. “I love its holistic, wraparound service approach. It really helps people get the support they need to get on a new track.

“One of the best experiences of my professional life has been encountering people I previously arrested and learning that they got clean or embarked on a new life path that’s good for them, their families, friends, and the community.”

Captain Abrahamson adds, “If there’s a warm fuzzy feeling as a cop, this is it.”

Captain Abrahamson notes that in addition to being the mother of his seven children, his wife Debbie is a family and trauma therapist. She’s also passionate about helping the underprivileged and works in the nonprofit world. “We see this as a kind of family mission,” he says.

Despite Portland’s many trials and tribulations in recent years, Captain Abrahamson is optimistic. “I’m excited by the new officers I see coming up in our ranks. They embrace the concept of community service. Just as I continue to be impressed by the dedication of VOA Oregon staff, I’m impressed by the people joining law enforcement with a sense of mission and purpose to serve and support others. This makes me optimistic about the future.”



To hear more about Captain Abrahamson’s thoughts on Portland’s future, go to his interview with Dave Dahl’s (Dave’s Killer Bread) Talkcast program.