A former undercover cop has revealed some of the most dangerous situations he had to face in his past career, explaining how one simple slip in the middle of an operation could have ended fatally.
Keith Banks, an ex-undercover police officer from Australia, described some of his most spine-tingling encounters on news.com.au’s podcast “I’ve Got News For You,” where his cover was almost blown on multiple occasions.
In one instance, the ex-undercover cop was almost exposed in front of a double-murderer prison escapee.
Mr. Banks was working in Cairns at the time and “befriended” the drug dealer – who he later found out escaped from a South Australian jail. As part of the operation, the ex-undercover officer went to a nightclub with the dealer.
Despite Mr. Banks’ big beard and long hair, the bartender, who was an old classmate, recognized the undercover cop and called him by his real name.
“I had to do some very quick talking and used some fairly strong language with him to tell him he had the wrong bloke,” Mr. Banks told host Andrew Bucklow.
The ex-undercover cop recalled the deadly look the murderer had given him, comparing his eyes to the “dark black soulless eyes” of serial killer Charles Manson.
“This guy looked at me with those eyes and said he called you, Keith. And that was when it sure went down the spine,” Mr. Banks said.
But that wasn’t the only operation where Mr. Banks had to think fast to avoid what could have been a deadly situation.
In another covert operation, Mr. Banks recalls walking into an Auchenflower flat in Brisbane to buy drugs, only to have a shotgun held to his head.
“(He) threatened to shoot me if I didn’t do rails with it or do lines of speed with him,” Mr. Banks said.
Despite death flashing before his eyes twice, it’s the next experience that Mr. Banks describes as his most “terrifying”.
During a drug deal, conversation came up about what the dealers would do if they found an undercover cop.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Mr. Banks said. “While they didn’t know who I was, that’s terrifying, because I knew that if anything had come out, I would have been dealt with and I would have been dealt with quite painfully and terminally.
“They would have killed me.”
Twenty-five years after retiring from the force, Mr. Banks wrote a book detailing his career titled “Drugs, Guns and Lies.” Shortly after he authored a second book about the struggles of being an undercover cop, called Gun to the Head.
With his career secrets now out in the open, podcast host Andrew Bucklow asked if any of the criminals Mr. Banks had locked up attempted to seek retribution.
“It’s a long, long time ago, if they wanted to seek any retribution that would have happened long before now,” Mr. Banks said.
In fact, he has experienced the complete opposite where a former prisoner from the Gold Coast called Mr. Banks to catch up for a beer after his release.
“I took some backup with me, of course, but after the first five minutes, I just strolled over to my backup guys and said, ‘It’s all cool, he just wants to say hello’,” Mr. Banks said.
“We had a few beers together. We laughed. He said, ‘I totally understand mate, I totally understand why you kept saying no (in regards to buying drugs from) me’ and we had a very enjoyable afternoon.”
Mr. Banks is now a board member of The Male Hug, a charitable organization that encourages men to speak about their mental health.
Additionally, he is a volunteer peer support officer for Police Veterans Victoria and is advocating for similar organizations to be established across the country.