I had just been promoted to Sergeant on the Los Angeles Police Department. I was sent to work the Watts area as a new field patrol sergeant. Working that area of the city was stressful enough, but in addition, most of the officers under me were new and inexperienced.  I was having to learn how to be a supervisor but also to learn the names of all the officers and recognize them.

There were five Sullivan brothers in the Navy in WWII, all assigned to the same ship. When it sunk, all five of the brothers perished, leaving their parents devastated. The Navy and other branches of the services discontinued assigning brothers to combat duties.  Because of that, I assumed that the Los Angeles Police Department probably had the same rule.  However I found out they didn’t.  In my first roll call, I was given a handful of subpoenas for the officers and told to serve each officer.  I had one subpoena for M.G. Enquist. I went to Officer Enquist and handed it to him. He looked at it and handed it back. He said, “That’s not me. That’s my brother. He’s off today.”  I issued the rest of the subpoenas. The next day, I tried to serve Officer Enquist again. He looked at it and said, “I told you yesterday, that’s not me. That’s my brother.” I issued the rest of the subpoenas. After roll call, I went to the personnel files and checked out the Enquists.  They were identical twins. One was Melvin and the other was Marvin.  Since they had joined together, their serials were separated by one digit. Now they are both assigned, not only to the same division, but to the same watch and both under me. Fortunately, they didn’t work the same unit together.

I checked with the Watch Commander. I asked him, how do you tell them apart?” He said, “I can’t. I just call one ‘Tweedle Dee’ and the other ‘Tweedle Dumb’. You’re on your own with it.”

I memorized their serial numbers so I could go by that on the subpoena. However, I was in for another surprise.  The next day, I tried to serve the subpoena, and handed it to M.G. Enquist. He took it, looked at it and handed it back and said, “That’s not me. That’s my brother.” Since he had taken it, I knew he wasn’t the one from yesterday. I asked him his serial number, and he gave me a number different than the one on the subpoena.  I realized each had memorized the other’s serial number.

They really had me going at first, but I went to their file pictures and spent time to examine them very carefully and discovered the subtle differences. Putting that in practice, I was able to address each one of them correctly. I never told them how I knew how to recognize the differences. Had I done that, they would have probably figured out how to change it to confuse me.

In identifying others, especially twins, I’m impressed with what Paul wrote in II TIM. 2:19, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his...” Most of our members at Highland Park have a similar problem I had with the Enquist twins with our twins, Robert and Ryan. God knows them apart. Do you?  Try to see if you can spot the difference.  There are actual differences.

Jesse R. Spurlock

Pastor Emeritus,

Highland Park Baptist Church