From 1943 to 1978 Lloyd Black was a police officer in Houston. He died when his grandson Carl was only thirteen years old, so in 1990 just before Carl Black graduated from the police academy, he formally requested his grandfather’s old badge number. Usually officers receive badge numbers in sequential order of when they joined the force (with current badge numbers being in the 8000s), but officers can traditionally request the numbers of family members who have left the police department. Carl’s superiors took one look at the request and thought he was joking, so when he requested it again for his graduation he had his grandfathers old badge pinned on his chest. He’d wear that same badge for three months on the force before a new badge with the same number was made for him. These days, Carl is a twenty year veteran of the force who works monitoring sex offenders, and he has become a minor celebrity in the five thousand man Houston police department because of his badge number. After all, who else would request 666 – the number of the beast?
Carl says he never once thought about what the number may mean to other people, as he was just concerned with honouring his grandfather’s memory. It first dawned on him that it might cause problems when other officers at the police academy moved away from him when they saw the badge, one of them even crossing himself. He recalls one time that a priest asked him to leave his church without registering whatever complaint he had called the police for help with. Still the badge number has done Carl more good than bad, with several people admitting their crimes as soon as they got a look at his badge, and then there’s the time it saved his life.
Carl recalls the night in 1992 when he was sure he was about to be put in hospital or worse. The six feet, six inches tall two hundred and eighty pound thug was determined not to be arrested. He tore his shirt off and screamed “You’re not gonna take me to jail!” at the young officer, before running at him and grabbing him. The giant got ready to strike then his eyes widened in fear as he caught sight of the badge number. He dropped to his knees and surrendered, saying he wasn’t going to fight the devil.