The Traitors’ Keith Banks on the police force, PTSD and the road to recovery

The contestant chats to TV WEEK.
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Trigger warning: this article contains topics of gun violence and PTSD.

Former undercover cop Keith Banks was at work when he was involved in a gun battle in which a close friend was killed, a traumatic event he didn’t realise would affect him for years to come.

“I had anxiety for years, complete joylessness, short-term anger issues,” Keith, 64, who’s competing in season two of The Traitors, tells TV WEEK.

“It wasn’t until 2019, when I was formally diagnosed with PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] that I realised I hadn’t been imagining it.”

There’s plenty for the former detective to try to work out.

(Image: Supplied)

The Victorian said his diagnosis was “empowering” and enabled him to do something about it. He’s now in recovery and a strong advocate for mental health.

Despite his 20 years in the force, Keith still found it difficult to pick who was lying on The Traitors.

“You’d think I’d have an advantage,” he says with a laugh. “You’re looking for people to slip up. But even body language can be faked, so it can get tricky.”

The Traitors contestants lined up for season two.

(Image: Supplied)

Keith, who was twice awarded the Police Valour Medal, has written two books about his time as an officer, exposing police corruption in his first book, 2020’s Drugs, Guns And Lies.

“I wrote very openly about the corruption I saw and the challenges of undercover work,” he says.

“A colleague developed a heroin addiction and it ruined his life as a result – it’s very confronting.”

Detective Sergeant Banks being decorated with the Queensland Police Valour Award in 1994.

(Image: Queensland Police Academy)

Keith says he’d still encourage others to join the police force.

“It’s a noble profession, which society would degenerate into chaos without,” he says. “Police are far more supported now than they were in the 1980s and ’90s when I was a cop.”

There’s plenty for the former detective to try to work out.

The Traitors airs Monday and Sunday, 7.30pm, on 10 and 10 Play.

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