Recording: VA police chief didn't want to hire minority female cops because of 'attitude'

The now-suspended police chief at the Atlanta VA Medical Center once said in a staff meeting that she no longer wanted to hire Black or Hispanic female officers because they "come with a whole lot of attitude."

The FOX 5 I-Team obtained the audio recordings of Chief Beverly Banks during a September 13, 2023, command staff meeting attended by more than a dozen people.

"I am to the point… I don’t want to hire black women no more," Banks can be heard saying to the group. "I’m to that point. I ain’t got no white women beating down my door to come in and work. But I wish they would. Cause I don’t have these problems."

But Chief Banks, who is also Black, didn’t stop there.

"I don’t have no Hispanic women. Hell, I don’t want them neither. Cause you know what comes with it? A whole of lot of f-----g attitude. And I don’t want it. I’m the only one with an attitude in this place. Me."

Atlanta VA Medical Center Police Chief Beverly Banks

A second person in the meeting who asked not to be identified confirmed the authenticity of the recording to the FOX 5 I-Team.

We forwarded the recording to the Veterans Administration.

In a statement to the FOX 5 I-Team, a VA spokesman said "there is no place for racism or discrimination at VA, and these comments are unacceptable."

Banks did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Banks was suspended with pay last month along with two other top commanders over what the VA called "unacceptable behavior" in the department, including "allegations of sexual assault and harassment."

Chief Banks took over the Atlanta VA Medical Center Police Department in late 2022, inheriting an organization filled with complaints involving favoritism and sexism.

Shaneka Jackson accused her deputy chief of exposing himself and asking for sexual favors. 

Months before she arrived, VA internal affairs examined the case of Shaneka Jackson. She accused Deputy Chief Johnnie McCullor of sexual assault.

"I didn’t know what he was doing until everything ultimately started to happen," Jackson told the FOX 5 I-Team.

McCullor denied everything. But a 2022 VA investigation raised questions about his honesty and found Jackson to be "accurate and truthful."

"I was being truthful," said Jackson. "And nothing happened."

Jackson lost her job. McCullor remained deputy chief. And when Chief Banks took over, she kept him there. It’s unclear whether she knew about the IA findings.

A December 2023 harassment complaint filed at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

In December 2023, another Black female officer filed a handwritten complaint with her supervisor, accusing McCullor of threatening to drag her down the hall by her hair.

It’s unclear what happened with the complaint, but at a department-wide meeting the next month, the chief said this to McCullor:

"Deputy Chief McCullor, if you don’t know how to talk to people, tell me now so I can do whatever I need to do to get you disciplined… again."

Retired Atlanta VA police officer David Bennett filed an EEOC complaint against Chief Beverly Banks alleging she shared personal information with his supervisors.

"All three who was led out and suspended was the catalyst of the problem there," said former VA police officer David Bennett. "And to say that, Randy, there’s two to three that needs to go as well."

Bennett served in the VA police department for five years. The combat veteran quit last month shortly after filing an EEOC complaint against Banks, accusing the chief of sharing confidential information about him with his supervisors.

"That created a toxic hostile work environment for me as an individual officer and didn’t feel as comfortable working for leadership as I did before," Bennett explained.

Bennett was at that January 2024 department-wide meeting where Banks encouraged her officers to clear the air.

"I have been made to sound like I’m a beast," she told them. "I’m just the worst beast ever."

But on the recordings provided to the FOX I-Team by one of the participants, the air was filled mostly with the voice of the chief.

"You all don’t understand what you have in me," Chief Banks said. "And I’m so sorry that y’all don’t."

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is demanding answers about the Atlanta VA Medical Center Police Department.

Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) wants "all unredacted" internal investigations involving those three top cops now off the job.

Major Daryl Gates was also originally suspended from police duties but has since been reinstated.