Recognize the Davidsonian in this photo? Check the back row, second from right – that’s Ivan Brown, former training officer for the Davidson Police Department. He’s pretty far from home, in Davidson’s St. Alban’s neighborhood. In fact, he’s in Afghanistan with a class photo of Afghan police trainees. Read on for his story.
A Postcard from Afghanistan
Some in town may remember June 2002 when the police department hired a new member – Douglas Ivan Brown, known to most as Ivan. So who is Ivan? And what brought him to Davidson? Ivan has a fascinating tale.
Ivan and his sister and two brothers grew up in the South as his father moved to different locations with Chevrolet Motor Division. Ivan joined the Army in 1981 to train as a military police officer until 1987 when he took a position with UNC Charlotte Department of Police and Public Safety. There he moved up through the ranks to become a specialized instructor.
In Charlotte Ivan met Nancy and they were married in 1988. They lived in Charlotte and soon added three children to their family. Finding teaching the most gratifying form of police work, Ivan was delighted to join the Davidson Police Department in 2002 as the training officer. Shortly after taking the position, he moved his wife and children to a home in the New Neighborhood of Davidson finding our town the perfect place to raise a family. Wanting to make a difference as an instructor, Ivan also worked training Marine Military Police Officers at Camp Lejune. He was eventually recommended for work as a police instructor in Afghanistan and found himself on a flight to Kabul in January 2007.
Afghanistan? In the midst of dangers that ranged from insurgents to drug smugglers? In a country with almost as many languages as tribes? In a bleak and harsh environment with frigid winters and scorching summers? Despite the hardships, Ivan is actually loving this adventure and thriving as he provides training in modern police methods under contract with DynCorp International. This company has been chosen by the U.S. Department of State to provide basic and specific training skills for the National Police, Border Police and Highway Patrol, all within Afghanistan.
Photo: Ivan Brown sometimes needs four-legged transportation in the remote Kala Gush area of Northern Afghanistan.
Ivan writes in his own words: “Great things are being accomplished in Afghanistan. Change has taken hold. Much work is still needed. More international involvement is required to guarantee the advances that have been made are lasting and to ensure that other advances will be accomplished. The Afghans are working shoulder to shoulder with the coalition forces to bring about these positive changes. Some of my friends call me an idealist. Some call me crazy. I think I am just a normal person…helping make this world a better place.”
Although dangerous, Ivan considers this an opportunity of a lifetime. He is doing what he loves best – teaching – and he can travel the world. He has visited Turkey, taken his older son, Lloyd, to Southeast Asia, spent three weeks in Nova Scotia with his family last summer, will visit Egypt and Jordan in May, and best of all, return to Davidson on furlough at the end of June. Words cannot express how much he is looking forward to the 4th of July with family, fireworks, hot dogs and cold beer!
Speaking of family, his wife Nancy is “holding down the family fort” while working part time as a department assistant in the Davidson College Physics Department. Their sons, Lloyd (16) and Adam (13) attend Davidson Day School. Their daughter, Rae, is nine years old and a third grader at Davidson Elementary. (The photo at left is of the family hiking together at the Kejimkujik seaside park in Nova Scotia.) Also, Nancy’s mother, Anne Howland, spends a good part of the year in Davidson helping out.
Ivan will continue with DynCorp until February 2009 and perhaps longer. He finds his work in Afghanistan personally rewarding, especially as each Afghan police class he trains moves toward graduation. Ivan’s plans for the future include finishing his college degree and teaching in our public schools until retirement.
In the meantime, Ivan sends greetings to all the “friendly folk who make Davidson such a unique community.” We wish him the very best in his daily assignments and safe travel in June when he returns to North Carolina. Kudos to you, Ivan, on your devotion to teaching and on trying to make a difference!