top of page

An Interview with Andrew B. Brown

by Gordon Nary

Gordon: When did you work as an Area Commander of Caithness at Sutherland & Easter Ross and what were your primary responsibilities?

Andy: I began my 30-year policing career in the north coast town of Thurso and very much developed the community policing approach that led to a long and varied career helping others. I was fortunate to develop expertise in Missing Persons, Advanced Accident Investigation, Child Protection, Investigations, and leading pro-active teams to develop intelligence for the soul purpose of deterring, disrupting, and detecting organized crime groups.

Returning some 20 years later as Area Commander, I was responsible for policing the top third of the landmass of Scotland, and through introducing intelligence led policing and the use of pro-active crime teams managed to reduce levels of criminality by 15% over my tenure. I was very much a believer that policing should be conducted with the consent of the community and spent time developing collaborative partnerships to help steer and shape our policing response to keep our communities safe.

As a representative on the Royal Residences Practitioner Group, revised armed security arrangements for the protection of HRH The Prince of Wales on his annual trips to the Castle of Mey, which had been gifted to him by the late Queen Mother and feel fortunate that over the years I had been involved in looking after various members of the Royal Family.

Gordon: What is one of your favourite memories when you were a Scottish Police Fulbright Research Fellow?

Andy: After transferring to the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan Castle, I commenced my doctoral studies focusing on the impact of police negotiators in their interaction with those in crisis intent on taking their own life. My beloved Professor encouraged me to apply to become a Fulbright Scholar and in 2011/12 I became the sole representative from the Scottish Police lecturing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York and investigated the effectiveness of law enforcement negotiations in the United States. I was seconded to the NYPD Hostage Negotiation Team and was proud to train with them and attend incidents to watch our craft in action in saving life. Following research, I introduced to the United States Marshal Service Fugitive Task Force de-escalation and negotiator training to their New York/New Jersey Teams ensuring it worked in practice on operations in the Bronx on a cold January morning. I also worked with the FBI Newark Negotiation Team on SWAT incidents and assessed their capability at the Homeland Security Counter Terrorism Exercise with the U.S. Navy at Earle, New Jersey.

Modest by nature, my skills and expertise were recognised by my peers throughout law enforcement, and I continue to this day to teach negotiators from across the world in how we respond to the ever increasingly complex world of crises.

But my abiding memory of my time in NYC was taking my 18-year-old son with me on my scholarship and watching him transform from a boy to a man as he undertook his passion in photography through internships with famous photographers in the city.

Gordon: You also serve as an Associate at Mind Over Matter. What is their mission?

Andy: I have worked with Professor Chris Kemp of Mind Over Matter Consultancy as their leadership consultant for many years helping those in the events industry hone and develop their skills as leaders. Assisting in the development, design & delivery of immersive leadership programmes to UK Sport Elite Olympic Coaches and immersive terrorism exercises to Wembley Arena Executive Team to improve preparedness.

Designing and delivering Event Safety & Security Management to Saudi Arabia General Entertainment Authority and to commercial clients in Dubai, UAE allowed me to see a culture opening up to new concepts with a sound approach to professionalising their abilities.

Gordon: You are also Chief Security Officer at Jesuit Refugee Services, please provide an overview of the Jesuit Refugee Service work.

Andy: I was initially brought into assist the Jesuit Refugee Service during a difficult time when their Afghanistan Country Director, an Indian Jesuit Priest, was abducted by the Taliban from a remote school south of Herat city. Working in liaison with the Afghan Security Forces, Indian Consulate, and the Holy See Gendarmerie, our team secured the safe release of the Priest after 264 days in Taliban captivity unharmed and without paying ransom.

From there I have gone on to become the Chief Security Officer for JRS to proactively provide technical & intelligence led crisis expertise and advise as we accompany, serve and advocate refugees and those displaced by violence in 58 countries, many of which are hostile environments.

Strengthening the organization’s ability to keep staff safe in the field, raising security awareness within the organization, providing support in response to critical incidents and protecting the reputation of the organization allows us to continue to deliver our mission despite the challenges.

The debrief from the Afghan crisis in 2021 identified areas for improvement but also acknowledged our ability, in partnership, with others to evacuate key national staff to safety and a new life in the USA & Italy. Such was our response to Afghanistan, we have proactively led the response to the war in Ukraine by establishing a Crisis Management Team in the Regional Office, co-coordinating & supporting the JRS and Society of Jesus missions across Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania in their capacity building and risk mitigation under an approach we have named One Proposal.

Continuing to provide staff support and tactical advice to the conflicts in Myanmar & Ethiopia allow us to continue to deliver the mission safely as we integrate safety & security into needs assessments that allow us to venture into countries afflicted by conflict, such as Mozambique.

It is an honour to work with JRS and I believe that my work in keeping others safe is very much my calling and has reminded me that “we’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns.”

Gordon: You are also the Founder of The Right Path What is their mission, and what are some of its accomplishments of which you are proudest?

Andy: I established The Right Path primarily to help others and to capture the many things that I have dealt with. I’ve been very fortunate in life that I have been gifted the ability to remain calm under intense pressure, which makes me well suited to helping others in crisis. As a negotiator, I listen more than I talk as it is important to empathically connect with those in crisis to help navigate them through their difficulty. I have achieved this through coaching and in my wide and varied work with JRS, where the East Africa Regional Director commented that I had been blessed with a ‘deep well of wisdom’.

I am very proud of my work with JRS and that true accompaniment with the many less fortunate than I, it makes me truly humble and grateful that I can help. I also am proud of my specialist work as an expert witness to judicial inquiries (Lindt Café Siege) on where police have deployed negotiators as it is through that external scrutiny that we learn and improve on how we help others.

Sometimes it is a lonely path to tread, but my strong faith, family, and devotion to helping others is a blessing.

Gordon: Thank you for a fascinating and informative Interview

bottom of page