February 29, 2024

Black History Month Spotlight: Chief Allen Banks

Celebrating Black History Month: What Does It Mean to You?

Can you share a bit about your personal background and heritage?

I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I am the 2nd born of 5 siblings.  I have three brothers and one sister.  I was raised as a “latchkey” kid.  My older brother and I used basketball as our escape from the gangs, drugs, and violence in the neighborhood we grew up in.  My mom and grandmother kept us in church and showed us the value of keeping God first despite our hardships and trials.

I started the Albuquerque Police Department in 1992 and retired as the Interim Chief of Police in 2014.  I was hired by the Round Rock Police Department in 2014 as the Police Chief.

Can you recall a specific moment or event in Black History that has a profound impact on you?

Two moments in Black History have had a profound impact on me.  I have seen and studied Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I have read about his civil rights movement, and I have watched his famous speech, I Have A Dream.  What stands out to me is that Dr. King was non-violent.  His message was that of UNITY and not division.  The other event was when Nelson Mandela was released from Prison and later became President of his Country.  His influence on beating adversity and succeeding in life is powerful.

What challenges have you personally faced as a result of your racial or ethnic background?

I face numerous challenges because of my racial or ethnic background. I have found in my life there are people who don’t like me or treat me differently because of the color of my skin.  Additionally, I have been disliked because I wear a uniform.  Furthermore, I’ve had to endure the hatred from some who don’t believe I should be married to a white woman.  My wife and I have been married since 1995.  We have 3 bi-racial kids.  We had many talks with our kids throughout their childhood about how people will treat them differently or dislike them because their dad is black and their mom is white.  Finally, I face the reality that there are people who don’t like me because I am Christian, and I don’t hide my religious beliefs.

 How do I engage with and contribute to your local Black Community? 

I am a Round Rock Black History Organization member.  (Former Vice-President)

I think it is important that police officers engage with our community.  It’s not always about placing people in handcuffs and taking them to jail.  A huge part of our job is community engagement.  We put on programs such as the Citizen’s Police Academy, Junior Police Academy, Step N2 Success, and Public Safety Day as outreach to our community.  The purpose is to have kids who are black, Hispanic, Asian, or white come to us in need and not be afraid of us.

What advice would I give to young Black individuals aspiring to achieve their goals?

I would tell them not to listen to anyone who tells them they cannot do it or discourages them from obtaining their dreams.  Do not let nay-sayers define who you are.  Success takes work, and it is not achieved overnight.  Put in the work and reap the rewards of your labor.

In what ways can we ensure that the various voices and experiences within the Black community are acknowledged and valued?

We continue to acknowledge the great work of the Black community.  We must highlight those who have overcome the hardships of society and life and are now successful.  Our youth need mentors and positive influences in person.  They should not allow video games, social media, or mainstream media to determine what direction their lives should go.  I see social skills diminishing because of technology.  There needs to be more face-to-face relationships.

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