ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) – The city manager who hired Round Rock’s new police chief is standing behind the decision after the publication of a six-month old news video. It shows Allen Banks as interim chief in Albuquerque, N.M., appearing gruff and short with reporters wanting to know more about a police-involved shooting.
Banks was hired as Round Rock’s new police chief in January.
“As I said at the time of Chief Banks’ hiring, we were aware of the officer-involved shootings that occurred recently in Albuquerque,” Steve Norwood told KXAN in an emailed statement. “Banks was fully vetted by our search firm, Affion Public.”
Last October, the newly-appointed interim chief of the Albuquerque Police Department held a news conference after an officer shot and wounded a man who tried to carjack people, fired a gun and ran others of the road, according to witnesses. Banks told reporters he would not show the video from an officer’s lapel camera.
The video was released by the Albuquerque Police Department on Monday, and was aired on NBC affiliate KOB4.
Banks was selected interim chief in Albuquerque during an ongoing Justice Department investigation into police use-of-force policies there. Under his watch, there were five officer-involved shootings, he said. The city had been reeling in the wake of more than three dozen officer-involved shootings since 2010. Critics reportedly blamed a departmental culture that bred brutality.
Chief Banks’ perspective
In a phone conversation Tuesday with KXAN, Banks explained the intent of his public comments in October were to separate himself from the former chief, who Banks said would often quickly release video of officer-involved shootings to the media.
“Detectives still had to do their work. They feared releasing the video would jeopardize their investigations,” Banks said. “My intent (in answering a reporter’s question) was not to be curt or combative.” Banks said he was simply taking a tough stance.
In an era where more and more city police chiefs and other public officials regularly speak of transparency and openness, KXAN wanted to ask Round Rock’s city manager if the video image of Banks last fall fairly represents him – if that is the type of leadership taxpayers can expect from this 22-year law enforcement veteran selected to replace retiring Round Rock Chief Tim Ryle.
“I stand behind the decision to hire Allen Banks and look forward to him serving for many years as Round Rock’s Chief of Police,” said Steve Norwood in his email.
Last year, Chief Ryle told KXAN’s Robert Maxwell he felt Round Rock and its growing 110,000 population needed a police chief who would make sure police officers did not remain isolated from an increasingly diverse public. He said that effort would act as a buffer toward keeping Round Rock’s standing as one of the safest small cities in America.
Banks told KXAN Tuesday his number one priority echoes Chief Ryle’s comments. “I want the community to know who I am,” he said. “Community relations is number one to make sure the partnership is strong.”
The KXAN Investigates team has requested a list of the other candidates considered for the chief position as well as resumes and reference letters of the finalists.
In Albuquerque, those documents were given to reporters soon after new chief and former federal marshal Gordon Eden was hired there in January.
Records show Banks will earn $140,000 a year as Round Rock Chief.
His biography is on the city website.