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He Can Deliver Arresting Sermon or Make Arrest : Badge, Bible Are His Weapons

March 21, 1985|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — During the week, he fights crime. On Sundays, he battles sin.

Naum Leroy Ware is a cop. The 26-year-old Lynwood resident also is an ordained minister.

"As a kid, I was always interested in being a policeman," he said. "I liked the authority it carried--the badge and gun, the excitement."

"The element of surprise" pulled him toward a career as a policeman, said Ware, who has been a member of the Pasadena Police Department for more than six years.

Similarly, an interest in the church and religion that began when he was a youngster eventually led him to become a minister.

Ware said he was pulled toward the ministry by of a wish to help people. As a teen-ager, he regularly read the Bible, attended church and sang in the choir, and was a junior deacon, Ware said.

Pasadena Police Lt. Donn Burwell said the department "knew Ware was different" when he started as a cadet in 1978.

During lunch breaks, Burwell said, "Ware could be found reading his Bible."

Ware was ordained a Baptist minister in 1978. He is now pastor of the Plain Truth Missionary Baptist Church of Compton.

His interest in religion started as early as 1975, when he was a student at Huntington Park High School and living in a South Los Angeles housing project with his mother, three older sisters and a brother.

"Instead of practicing during football or track workouts, I would walk around the field, witnessing (talking about God) to other students," said Ware, who was born in Lynwood.

"I didn't need the practice anyway. I was a good athlete. I was ready at game time."

Ware said he met his future wife while bearing witness during track practice.

Finds No Conflict in Roles

"She ran track. She was also a witness," Ware said. He married Annette Evans in 1978, and the couple have two children, Naum Jr., 6, and Nicole, 4. Annette Ware teaches Sunday school at the church.

Ware, who has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from California State University, Los Angeles, does not find any conflict between being a street cop and being "a messenger of God."

As a preacher, Ware said he can minister to people's needs whether they are spiritual or social. As a police officer, often confronting antisocial behavior, he expands his role to use some of his skills as a minister.

One person who said she has been helped by Ware's concern for people is Dorothy Clark Hemphill.

"He came to visit my daughter and me in the hospital after we were shot," said Hemphill, 39, the mother of 10 children.

Two Seriously Wounded

Hemphill and her 17-year-old daughter were seriously wounded during a confrontation on the street with a group of people last year. Hemphill said the group had attacked her daughter, who was returning home from a grocery store, and taken food from her. Hemphill was shot when she went to help.

"It was our word against their word. Nothing was ever done," Hemphill said.

She said Ware's church has continued to help the family, which receives welfare.

"We have received clothes from some of the church members. They have made us feel welcome when we have attended," Hemphill said.

"Rev. Ware is also a good preacher," she added.

He is also a very good police officer, said Burwell, a 16-year veteran of the force. He calls Ware "a very dynamic individual."

Humanistic Side

"He is aware of the humanistic side of police work," Burwell said. "He puts people in jail but he takes it a step further. He adds another dimension to his police work. He counsels the people when he feels they need it.

"We have to spend years sometimes teaching young policemen that serving the public includes more than just arresting people," Burwell said. "Police work involves recognizing problems that might not be criminal in nature."

Ware said that both as a minister and as a police officer, he uses his ease with people, especially youngsters, to learn what makes them tick. The talent is useful in both jobs.

Ware said he recently ran into a boy, about 15, whom he had once counseled as a police officer. A few years earlier, Ware had gone to the boy's home after the youngster's mother was suspected of abusing him.

When Ware saw the teen-ager recently, the youth was coming out of a suspected drug dealer's home.

Remembered His Advice

Ware said the young man, who had been placed in a foster home, "remembered a lengthy conversation we had in which I encouraged him to try and make something out of his life."

"He said he was trying to stay out of trouble. He said he didn't know that the home was a suspected rock house (where drugs are sold). After investigating his story, I believed him," Ware said.

Tragically, the two worlds of crime and worship came together recently when Compton grocer Eddie Warren Adams, who co-founded the Plain Truth church with Ware, was killed.

Adams, 60, was clubbed to death Jan. 29 in his small grocery store, which is next door to the church. (Leon Watts, a 19-year-old Compton man, has been arraigned on one count each of murder and robbery.)

The church, which has about 50 members, plans to hold a memorial service each year in honor of Adams, Ware said.

Mean Side of the Street

"Mr. Adams knew everyone in the community. He helped people," said Ware, who was not involved in the police investigation of his friend's murder. But as a policeman, Ware is painfully aware of the mean side of the street.

"Over the years, I've gone out on a lot of burglaries, murders, rapes, car thefts and family disputes.

"I've never had to shoot anyone but I've pulled my gun on occasions."

He said he knows when to "give religious counseling" and when to pull his weapon.

"He is a tough cop and he preaches a dynamic sermon," said Les Brewer, 47, a reserve policeman and one of Ware's best friends.

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