Seattle City (spot)Light: John Abraham

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, John Abraham has been a public servant for the City of Seattle for more than 30 years. He joined the utility five years ago, but not before serving 26 years as a police officer for the Seattle Police Department. At age 17, he entered the Canadian Army, later transferring to the Canadian Navy (too much salt water in his veins) which would be followed by his time with the United States military. “Yup! I have a dual citizenship,” he happily shared.

As City Light’s Safe Driving Program Coordinator, John teaches safe driving tactics to utility employees. John works at the North Service Center Annex and resides in Mukilteo with his wife Joan, who also shares his love of adventure. “We just purchased a RV and can’t wait to use it along the coast,” he said. In this week’s (spot)Light, John talks rides, dives and drives.

John with his ride

“I’ve been riding motorcycles for almost 55 years. My wife and I take trips on our Harley. We’ll often hop on a road we’ve never been on and see where it takes us. Last year we went to Kamloops, British Columbia. We took the back roads and cruised Highway 1. We spent a week on the road just riding. It was a great time.”

“I’m also a scuba diver. I dived in the Navy and in almost every major ocean. I especially enjoy the beautiful waters of Hawaii. Here, I like the underwater park in Edmonds. Divers from all over the world come to the Pacific Northwest—they’re convinced it has some of the most beautiful diving in the world. Which it does.”

“When I was hired, the utility was having trouble with preventable collisions. My job was to reduce those collisions and provide training (both defensive driving and simulator) in addition to classroom and on-site instruction. When I started, the number of preventable crashes averaged 60-70 per year. The past three years’ preventable collisions have averaged about 30 per year. My new concentration is cone course training to emphasize pivot point and backing techniques. I’d like to focus more on that in the coming year.”

“Law enforcement was a great career. Many people don’t realize that while your profession is law enforcement, your job is to go home at the end of the day. The same is true here. Whether you work for City Light as a line worker or in administration, the job is to go home at the end of the day. That’s why I emphasize defensive driving tactics and do everything I can to help people pay attention to their driving. As the seasons change, I provide City Light with any changes to traffic situations. An example of this is the spring when the dusty motorcycles and bicycles come out of the garage from winter hibernation and hit the roads.”

“One of my first instructors taught me that the most important components in law enforcement are common sense and communication skills. I try and live by that. I’ve taken courses that have allowed me to learn how people think and what their attitudes are. When I came to the utility, I applied that way of thinking in my new role. It’s important to adapt your mindset and learn how to communicate with everyone.  This is a great, hardworking organization and I enjoy working with all the folks.”

Thank you, John, for your incredible years of service and for doing your part in keeping us safe! Ride on!

South Seattle Fire Determine to be Intentionally Set

May 19–Seattle Fire Investigators determined a fire inside a two-story South Seattle home is an intentionally set fire.

At 3:45 p.m. a passerby called 911 to report smoke coming from the home located in the 10400 block of 67th Avenue South.  Simultaneously, the Seattle Police Department responded after the homeowner called 911 to report a burglary.

When Engine Company 33 arrived on scene they found smoke and flames coming from the first floor of the two-story home with basement. The front door of the home was open when firefighters arrived on scene.

Firefighters searched the house and did not find any occupants inside. Later, the owners arrived at the fire scene and they indicated they were not living in the home during a remodeling project.

The fire began in the living room of the house and extended to the walls and ceiling causing spreading though the void spaces. Firefighters prevented the fire from extending to the rest of the house.  It took 20 minutes to completely extinguish the flames. The first and second floor of the home suffered smoke damage.

The damage estimate is $100,000.

There were no injuries.

The Seattle Police Department Arson Bomb Squad is investigating the case.

Police Precinct Art Tour


Seattle Police Precincts art tour

This month on our city art tour we will visit all of the Police precincts and headquarters. Whether you are there for work, fun or other reasons, the city’s police precincts serve as an in important hub in our community and the art work commissioned for the buildings reflect the police officer’s commitment and neighborhoods they serve.

For the uninitiated there are five police precincts in the city in addition to the downtown headquarters and each has its own unique character. The precincts cover anywhere between seven and 24 neighborhoods and each one has its own captain.

Seattle Justice Center, Seattle Police Department Headquarters, Lobby Artist Design Team

Codes & Protocols, 2002
610 Fifth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98124
Fleets and Facilities Department 1% for Art

Photo credit: Tom Colicott

Description: Seattle’s Justice Center is home to the city’s Municipal Court and Seattle Police Department Headquarters. The major artwork for the Justice Center was developed collaboratively by the team of Pam Beyette, lead artist, and Michael Davis, Norie Sato and Richard Turner. Early in the design process the artists agreed the artwork would engage community members in thoughts about the nature of the justice system and the roles of the police and the courts in their lives. A primary metaphor that developed was the “ripple effect” of an individual’s actions on society at large. A single act against the law affects not only the perpetrator and victim, but also families and friends of these people, sometimes unintended strangers and ultimately the judicial system.

Codes & Protocols is a series of installations located on the north and south walls of the police headquarters lobby. Two stone benches at either end of the lobby convey a sense of permanence, weight and stability. At one end, a cast police hat and keys represent service. The basket weave of police belts and holsters inspired the bronze sculptural panels. Together, the bronze and stone elements speak to the everyday reliability that citizens expect from the police.

North Police Precinct Neighborhoods Served: Aurora, Ballard, Bitter Lake, Broadview, Carkeek, Crown Hill, Fremont, Green Lake, Greenwood, Lake City, Laurelhurst, Licton Springs, Loyal Heights, Maple Leaf, Northgate, Phinney Ridge, Ravenna Bryant, Roosevelt, Sand Point, Sunset Hill, University District, View Ridge, Wallingford, Wedgwood
Paul Marioni
Khadi, 1984
10049 College Way N.
Seattle, WA 98133
Seattle Police Precincts Bond Issue 1% for Art funds

Detail image courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Description: Khadi is comprised of nearly 500 iridescent glass blocks that form a larger-than-life interwoven pattern on a curving wall that separates the North Police Precinct’s lobby from its community meeting room. Artist Paul Marioni designed the wall with assistance from precinct architect Shavey, Degrasse, Shavey. The wall represents the weaving exercise called khadi that Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian political and spiritual leader, practiced as a form of meditation. The calming repetition of the warp and weft of cloth is elegantly reproduced by the identical glass blocks that Marioni rotated 90 degrees at a time in order to replicate the distinctive pattern. His work creates a soothing pattern that carefully unites qualities of light, color and texture in an interesting interplay that engages the eye and distracts the mind from the pressures of the moment.

East Police Precinct, Lobby Neighborhoods Served: Capitol Hill, Central Area, First Hill, Judkins Park, Madison Park, Montlake, upper Pike/Pine neighborhood
Diane Katsiaficas
Neighbors, 1986
1519 12th Ave. E.
Seattle, WA 98102
Seattle Police Precincts Bond Issue 1% for Art funds

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Description: Ceramic artist Diane Katsiaficas designed the artwork for the East Police Precinct Lobby creating a mixed-media environment referencing the diverse Capitol Hill neighborhood where the station is located. Textured wall and floor mosaics composed of hundreds of glazed ceramic “people” fill a free-form design that cuts through the basic grid pattern of the precinct’s tile floor. Framing the large front window are two walls on which mosaics of figures have been arranged — in a ray-like pattern on the south wall, and along the basic outline of a house on the north wall. Below the window runs a curved bench backed by colorfully edged wood cutouts of nearby buildings and houses, forming a Capitol Hill skyline. A set of stairs near the wall references a front stoop and adds to the sense of community the space evokes.

Katsiaficas invited fellow ceramic artists Margi Beyer and Maggie Smith to partner on the project. The team also worked in partnership with local students from University Heights Elementary School and Sharples Alternative High School who helped create the myriad of ceramic figures. This spirit of collaboration works well with the themes of cooperation and relationship-building inherent in the piece, qualities that remind visitors of the important function the local police play in their neighborhood on a daily basis.

South Police Precinct, Lobby Neighborhoods served: Beacon Hill, Mount Baker, Columbia City Hillman City, Genesee, Georgetown, Rainier Vista, Lockmore, New Holly, Othello Park, Othello Station, Brighton, Dunlap, Rainier Beach, Upper Rainier Beach, Rainier View, Seward Park, SODO, Pritchard Beach
Liza Halvorsen
Salmon, 1983
3001 S. Myrtle St.
Seattle, WA 98108
Seattle Police Precincts Bond Issue 1% for Art funds

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Description: Multitudes of ceramic salmon, glistening in subtly iridescent shades of pink, green and brown, swim and leap throughout the South Police Precinct lobby. Artist Liza Halvorsen used 12 different molds and approximately 350 tiles to create this collection of fish shown in various stages of their life cycle. To make the tiles, Halvorsen employed the time-intensive raku firing process that gives the tiles their distinctive colors and crackled surfaces.

A 225-square-foot mural is the centerpiece of the work. Spanning the length of the wall over the reception desk, the mural depicts salmon swimming through ceramic tile water past stylized island forms, a vista reminiscent of the San Juan Islands where Halvorsen makes her home. Other salmon appear throughout the station, populating the walls at the front of the reception desk and the bathrooms. The mural also includes several whimsical touches including a whole group of salmon that leap over a water fountain set into the lobby wall. A hardier variety of brick salmon inhabit the exterior of the building as well, lining the entryway and stairs.

Swimming salmon create a soothing atmosphere for the police station lobby, a space generally characterized by the comings and goings of busy officers and harried visitors. For Halvorsen, who spent time observing salmon at the Ballard Locks, watching them swim by was “calming,” an effect she thought “would work for other people, to see them swimming by and see how beautiful they are.”

Southwest Police Precinct Neighborhoods Served: Admiral, Alki, Arbor Heights, Beach Drive, California Junction, Delridge, Morgan Junction, Gatewood, Endolyne, Fauntleroy, Pigeon Point, High Point, Harbor Island, Delridge, Westwood Village, South Park.

Kay Kirkpatrick Streambed Memories, 2003; Sanctuary Grove, 2003; Dream Forest, 2003; Waterprints, 2003
2300 S.W. Webster
Seattle, WA 98106
Fleets and Facilities Department 1% for Art

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Description: The Southwest Precinct is home to multiple installations by Kay Kirkpatrick; from the entrance to the interior walls, artwork is embedded throughout the building. Streambed Memories, a vertical wall, serves as a signpost for the building and memory marker for officers lost in the line of duty. The scattered leaves derive from the officers’ existing tree memorializing a fallen comrade at their old precinct.

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Sanctuary Grove, a wall-mounted sculpture of stripped ash branches, forms a shelter-like opening and represents the building as a sanctuary for police, as well as citizens seeking aid.

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Dream Forest features the image of a forest cast onto the east exterior wall of the facility using projected light. As if in a dream, the forest appears and disappears with the time of day.

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Waterprints, comprised of etchings in the windows, casts changing patterns on walls. The etchings appear to glow when seen from the outside. Text embedded in the etched pattern and translated into several languages spoken in the Delridge neighborhood, reinforces the police department’s mission to the public.


West Police Precinct Neighborhoods Served: Downtown Business District, Waterfront, International District, Pioneer Square, Belltown, Queen Anne, West Edge, SoDo, Westlake, Eastlake, Seattle Center, Denny Triangle, Magnolia, South Lake Union
Elizabeth Conner and Design Team (Benson Shaw, David Lilienthanl and Steve Marks)
24-Hour Street Grid, 1999; Plaza Seat Cubes, 1999; Lockers (lobby), 1999; Lockers (hallway), 1999; 911 “History Wall”, 1999; 911 Benches, 1999
810 Virginia St.
Seattle, WA 98101
Department of Finance and Administrative Services 1% for Art Funds

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Description: 24-Hour Street Grid, suspended above the front lobby, is a glowing fiber-optic grid structure that symbolizes the network of urban streets patrolled by West Precinct officers. The cables slowly change color over time as a reminder of the force’s around-the-clock watch.

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Plaza Seat Cubes.  A pattern of 2′ x 2′ squares enhances the plaza and stairs in front of the precinct. Cast concrete cubes placed across the pattern bear marks and geometrical indentations that mimic urban motifs such as hatchcovers and footprints commonly seen by offices on foot patrol.

Detail, courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Lockers (lobby), two free standing Plexiglas lockers act as silent sentries on either side of the lobby door. A light illuminates the contents of each locker revealing artifacts contributed by officers and the Seattle Police Department archive. Acting as a compact police museum, the old-style locker cases display public safety relics made accessible to current officers and the general public.

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

Lockers (hallway), 27 “lockers” depicted on several colors of plastic laminate continue, with slight alteration, the standard wainscot treatment that is found throughout the West Precinct halls. This long row of lockers also alludes to officers lined up in traditional watch photographs. Four of the lockers are open, displaying police artifacts contributed by officers and borrowed from the Seattle Police Department.

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

911 “History Wall”, a transparent wall, viewable from both sides, contains miles of recycled cables, photographs and artifacts that reflect the recent history of “911” and the call-takers, dispatchers and other staff members that help run this service. End-lit fiber optic cables deliver pulses of light that represent the rapidly changing communications technology that drives the “911” system.

Courtesy Office of Arts & Culture

911 Benches, constructed out of cherry wood and steel, these benches provide sleek but utilitarian seating for visitors. Their uniform appearance, each a variation on the same geometrical theme, works to tie each element of the facility together.

Firefighters Extricate Driver from Truck vs Bus Collision on Rainier Avenue South

March 7- Seattle firefighters spent half-an-hour extricating a mother from her pickup truck after a collision between the vehicle and a bus.

At 12:53 p.m.  firefighters were called to Rainier Avenue South and South Massachusetts Street for a car rescue. When firefighters arrived on scene, they found a pickup truck with a smashed-in driver’s door. The female driver was trapped in the driver’s seat of the extended cab pickup. Ladder Company 3 cut the roof off of the pickup truck and took the driver’s side door off in order to extricate the female driver.  The woman was conscious and alert. The approximately 30-year-old driver suffered a cut to her head. Medics evaluated her and transported her to Harborview Medical Center in stable condition.

By the time firefighters arrived, the three children, whose ages range from 2 to 6-years-old, and the male passenger were already outside the car. All 4 patients were evaluated by Medics and did not require further treatment. The three children were secured in car seats at the time of the accident.

Three passengers on the bus were evaluated for minor injuries and did not need treatment or transport.

The Seattle Police Department is conducting an investigation into the cause of the accident.