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. Beekermeepmeep

    I would hate for them to beat a shoe less bum.

    Good show.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. CNN

    New hires, mustache surgery, NY kindness, and Linsay Lohan. That's CNN, thumbs up for the usual unobservant CNN ignoring real world events.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sandra

    A week ago a member of my church asked for a donation from Rose's Dept. Store in Abingdon, VA. He was gathering items to take to New York for the victims of Sandy. The manager donated every mens jacket that was in the store!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Greenspam

    I have a more touching story: Defeated Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney got a free meal at the White House. How about that?

    November 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. mist

    This police officer is a leader and we should recognize his act of kindness!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Richit Train

    Talk about foot patrol!

    November 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. TBoneNYC

    Another impressive showing from the people who police the City I live in. Now if you could all stop driving around drunk on your off hours and hitting stuff we'll be cool.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • LoloMcSilly

      HAHA NO KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      November 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Super Catholic

    Gee!
    I'm sure that will make up for the 2 dozen or so people they've murdered this year.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kevin Childs

      Please enter an anger management program. The world is a wonderful place, and the fleeting moments that we spend here should be positive in nature.

      November 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gigi

    God Bless You!

    November 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. darney378

    Wow! this is too much emotion to handle.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Karen

    Do not forget my fellow brothers and sisters, We are also judged by our actions.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. shawn

    This touched my heart. Thank God for the kind people He has placed on earth.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. CanadaBlue

    Good to see this. See, cops aren't all bad.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Elizabeth Balish

    " The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching". Officer DePrimo your topnotch!

    November 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. pratab

    it really inspired me

    November 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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