November 29th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

New York cop's act of kindness goes viral

[Updated at 8:45 a.m. ET Friday] Here's how a simple act of kindness can become a worldwide inspiration and a public relations bonanza for the New York Police Department.

In a case of being in the right place at the right time, a tourist from Arizona, who happens to work in law enforcement herself, was visiting New York City earlier this month when she noticed a man without shoes asking for change near Times Square.

Jennifer Foster, of Florence, Arizona, sent the following note, along with a picture she took, to the NYPD, which posted it on its Facebook page.

"Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him. The officer said, 'I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let's put them on and take care of you.' The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching. I have been in law enforcement for 17 years. I was never so impressed in my life. I did not get the officer's name. It is important, I think, for all of us to remember the real reason we are in this line of work. The reminder this officer gave to our profession in his presentation of human kindness has not been lost on myself or any of the Arizona law enforcement officials with whom this story has been shared."

That Facebook post has gone viral since it went up Tuesday, with more than 77,000 shares, 322,000 likes and 20,000 comments. Most of those comments, which come from places as far away as Australia and Malaysia, praise the officer for his simple act.

"Angels are everywhere, we just have to see!!!" Helen Hoglund wrote.

"Way to go cop ... God bless," posted Jonathan Brown.

"This action gives me a warm feeling, even here in The Netherlands," said Elbert Donker.

Some of the praise didn't come without digs at New York and its finest.

"I wish more people were like this. This is in NY and would be the last place I would see this type of kindness," Teri Pizzurro wrote.

"It's the first time a policeman made me cry tears of joy. And I think that's true for a lot of us," commented Lola Lloyd.

"I really dont like cops ive been in the situation of being searched and arrested for spitting on the sidewalk but this guy gets some respect from me," said a post from Gavin Roman.

On Thursday, the police officer's identity was revealed: He's Larry DePrimo, 25.

The two-year veteran of the department explained he was on patrol in Times Square on the frigid night of November 14 when he came across a man in bare feet with "blisters ... about the size of my hands."

"My heart went out to this man," DePrimo told CNN. "I just went toward him and asked him if he wanted a pair of socks. But he said, 'No, and God bless you for asking.' "

The officer said he had one word to describe the man's gracious words: "inspiring."

Inspired himself, DePrimo headed to a nearby Skechers' store and after asking the man his shoe size bought winter boots. The store's staff figured out was going on and gave DePrimo an employee discount to help "make the best out of the situation," said assistant manager Jose Cano.

When DePrimo gave away the boots, the man thanked him with a "smile (that) went from ear to ear."

"And again, he said God bless me. And he said be safe."

Still, because this is New York, there were some who consider the officer a victim, taken in by another scam.

"Clever stunt! The (man) is 'parked' at the entrance of a shoe shop. He got like 10 pairs that day," commented Louis Zehmke.

"This guy is only barefoot as a begging strategy," wrote David Levy. "I've been seeing him around midtown for years. I've even witnessed someone buy him slippers in a freezing day which he promptly put in his shopping cart."

Don't tell that to DePrimo. He carries around the Skechers' receipt in his bulletproof vest as a reminder of the people that he and fellow officers serve.

While the officer admits being taken aback by the generally positive reaction to his gesture, DePrimo said he hopes it inspires others to help strangers in need.

"If it pushes somebody else to go out and do another kind act toward another person, then I am going to sleep well tonight."

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Filed under: Facebook • New York • Social media • Times Square
soundoff (295 Responses)
  1. Joel-B

    Sincerely, may God bless them both, and all the good, caring people in this world...

    November 30, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  2. KatMatt

    God bless you officer DePrimo! It is such a joy to see a young person setting such a fine example for all of us! Merry Christmas to you and your family and may God bless you and protect you always!

    November 30, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Isis

    Someone needs to buy him Eggplant Parmesean, a nice bottle of wine and Coppa....

    Nice gesture, that was kind , Paisano.

    Xox Merry Christmas

    November 30, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dave

    Staged.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. Norvie

    Kudos to this good officer! Greetings from the Philippines.

    November 30, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  6. Sho

    Hopefully that one good cop's cellphone, mail and doorbell of his flat isn't being bombarded by messages "can I get some shoes?". People is fast to use out solo endeavors like this and that's why they don't do it anymore and better donates to right organizations who would maybe use funds more well put

    November 30, 2012 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. jamsmom

    I hate to be a cynic, but this exact same thing happened in Winnipeg, Manitoba a month or so ago but I guess it didn't make the news in the US. A bus driver got off the bus and gave his shoes to a homeless guy on the side of the road, but there was no viral video. It was witnessed the old fashioned way: with eyeballs.

    November 30, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
    • dwhite2173

      thanks for sharing that

      November 30, 2012 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      and that makes this less in some way?

      November 30, 2012 at 4:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Noiphonehere

      maybe you dont own an iphone to film it with and upload instantly to youtube etc?

      November 30, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
  8. awakened

    just kinda funny that the tourist also a cop

    November 30, 2012 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. Susan L

    An extraordinary man. May your kindness inspire others. God bless, and stay safe.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
  10. Retired LE

    This act of kindness not only warms the soles of the homeless man, but the soul of the Officer who acted.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. Josh

    @MIgirl2012 Amen. @Dominic...you're in denial.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bx made guy

    Most are rude and pompano tyrants.This kid is a Hero for everyone at Chrstmas and all decent cops.

    November 30, 2012 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ashish

    Glad to hear this heart-warming story. Truly a great act of kindness.

    November 30, 2012 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
  14. Compass

    Congrats to the officer, and don't let all those stories about bad cops screw your judgement- cop stories are the new shark stories, minor issues that the news finds out the public love to read about, and as such over report on it. That over reporting leads people to believe that the issue is larger then it is, more people read, the more the news focuses on it... Snowball. For every bad cop that makes headlines when they do something immoral, there are many out there who are doing their job well and with compassion, and get nothing but criticism from those they spend their lives helping. Think beyond the headline, and stop knee jerking.

    November 30, 2012 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. CJ

    Gud job officer, God blesses those that do gud, if some1 thinks this is a scam, God will judge u on ur own thinking, pray every1 will show kindness 2 others everywhere like this officer, God bless u n ur family officer, may he keep u safe in everyway u go.

    November 30, 2012 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
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