Newly appointed Disaster Management Co-ordinator for Chaguanas Stephan Kishore has been keeping a secret. At 26, he has a criminal record. In 2006, Kishore served 60 days in prison in the United States and was put on probation for three years for illegally possessing a fake federal agent's identification card. He had to return to his home in Central Trinidad in 2009 after being unable to obtain a green card because of his criminal record.
After trying his hand at an assortment of jobs before landing the post at the Chaguanas Regional Corporation last year, Kishore confessed to the Sunday Guardian on Thursday that he had opted to remain tight-lipped about his past in order to get a job. "Don't ask, don't tell," Kishore said, as he contemplated his next move following the publication of this article.
"If you were in my position, what would you have done?" he asked, throwing his hands up in the air. Kishore was offered the three-year contract in October. After the mass destruction caused by severe weather last year, co-ordinators were assigned to different areas to deal with affected residents. Kishore was the only new disaster co-ordinator to be appointed, replacing Jagdeo Balroop. He receives a salary of $9,500.
A blast from the past
But his decision to stay quiet is not sitting well with some of his colleagues, who view it as an attempt to "outsmart" officials. "He should have been upfront and put his cards on the table. If he was to get the job he would have been hired, but now it is not looking right at all," one of them said.
While acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes, another staff member said: "His actions have come back to haunt him like a blast from the past. He should have been straightforward and said what he did." At the time of the incident Kishore was a student at York College in New York.
According to a report in the Queens Courier, Kishore was pulled over on the Van Wyck Expressway by Port Authority police for changing lanes without signalling. His minivan had been modified to look like a police van and had a large police decal on the rear door.
There were red and blue strobe lights on the front dashboard, as well as two Department of Homeland Security (DHS) parking placards. Kishore handed over a black wallet which contained a DHS Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) identification card and an ICE shield.
When asked if he was a police officer, Kishore replied: "Yes, I am on duty." However, when police looked more closely, they spotted on the back of the shield the words: "Copshop.com, Collectible Badge, Not for Official Use."
Kishore was arrested and police searched his home in the Bronx where they found a cache of weapons including two stun guns, two pellet guns and two starter pistols, a laminating machine, blank ID cards and several pieces of forged law-enforcement paraphernalia. He was charged with criminal impersonation, forgery and criminal possession of a weapon, a forged instrument and forged devices.
Asked if he felt if he believed that he would have been able to get away from the police officers, Kishore said: "I tried something but knew I had been caught."
Don't ask, don't tell
So why didn't Kishore disclose his background details when being interviewed? He told the Sunday Guardian he felt because the incident happened six years ago, he should be given a chance to start over. However, he said, if the application form had required him to list details of his background, he would have confessed.
On further reflection, Kishore admitted he should have revealed all. He said he was prepared for the severe consequences he might now face. "At this point, I will deal with whatever has to come my way. For me, the worst is over." In fact, he says he's relieved that his secret is out.
"Honestly, I am feeling a weight off my shoulders. I knew it would have come out sooner or later, but I did not know how to do it. "Young people do silly things. I was under no obligation to reveal it, so I said nothing."
Why did he do it?
Kishore did not say when but revealed that he had been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). He did not say if it was before or after he was charged. One thing was certain, he was fixated on the police.
"I always wanted to be a police officer. Now I have blown my chances of that ever happening. I collected everything police officers are supposed to use and have. I just used to collect anything that policemen will use. I got in over my head and I paid the price. It was a weird fixation," he said. The offence also caused him to lose his longtime girlfriend.
"We were supposed to get married, but after I got arrested, her family wanted her to have nothing to do with me. "I came back home and I am trying to put the pieces back together. "Since I came home I worked with the T&T Red Cross and as a first-aid and disaster lecturer. This is my first solid job."
While Kishore did not reveal what his exact qualifications were he insisted that he was qualified for the job based on his work experience. Telephone calls to Local Government Minister Suruj Rambachan for comment on this matter were unsuccessful.
According to Medicinenet.com OCD is an anxiety disorder characterisied by irresistible thoughts or images (obsessions) and/or rigid behaviours that may be driven by obsessions. The most effective treatment for OCD is often cognitive-behavioural therapy. Antidepressants are sometimes used in conjunction with therapy, although medication alone is rarely effective in relieving the symptoms of OCD.