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. percysmama

    This is a great story and reminds us that police officers are human and see a lot of bad. This man did a good thing for someone. When I lived in NYC there was this homeless man named treeman who we all loved. When it was cold the police would picked him up on false charges to get him off the street. He did not want to go to a shelter. The would keep him warm and then drop the charges. I was always grateful they dealt with him in the only way that would help the man.I think they liked him also.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bill

    Now if everybody including the rich & poor would do just 1 act of kindness this week for someone , we just might be getting somewhere .

    November 29, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SK

    As a fellow human being, I bow before this officer of NYPD. His name should be made public as an example to not only police officers but to every decent human being,

    November 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steven

    The NYPD should get a Christmas stocking for this cop with an extra months salary for the PR good he has done.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    Watch Internal Affairs try to make something out of this – deriliction of duties, etc. Awesome job by the officer. Well done!

    November 29, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve G

      Try not to be so cynical-Thanks

      November 29, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Randy

    It was a simple act of kindness – accept it for what it is .

    November 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      It is a simple act, but it's not very common. You'd be surprised how many people could care less or do nothing at all to help those who have less than them.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • honfleur

      Simple yes, but there's the RARE part that makes this important.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • APatriot1

      Yes, it is rare. I wonder how many homeless people Mitt Romney and his kind ignore, even when they might have helped put them in the street. Most who have fortunes these days forget that it's the root of fortunATE, and seldom think, there but for the grace of God go I.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. eAbyss

    This kind of officer is a dying breed. If only every officer treated people with the respect they deserve.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cop's Son

      While you may be right "...officer is a dying breed. If only every officer treated people with the respect they deserve." Imagine if they (Police) received the respect they deserved for the risks they take for us.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    This story doesn't surprise me one bit. NY cops earn more respect in 5 minutes than most of us get in a lifetime, on half the pay they deserve. They don't waste their time, or yours, on hassling the citizens. They do their best to make the city better. I don't know how, but they use much better judgment than most cops in other cities. Maybe because they have to. Maybe because of good leadership.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie Hanlon-Smith

      Clearly never heard of stop and frisk, have you? NYC police have a bad rap among youth of color and anyone who cares about them, and one pair of shoes isn't going to fix that.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dominic

    if more cops could act like this more often people would have a more positive view and relationship with the law

    November 29, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve G

    Thank You for helping to restore some of our faith in humanity and public service in this nation. Now please take a few days of vacation and go down to Washington D.C. and try and talk some sense into both chambers and both sides of our seemingly stupid US Congress and the Executive Branch also. They need all the good examples they can get of what fine public servants are supposed to do and act like. Sign me a retired USAF NCO who is proud of you for your actions!! I want to add to my previous comment above. I visited NYC about 5 years ago just for a day and I was walking around in downtown Manhattan near Battery Park. Every time I stopped a beat cop to ask a question or simply for directions they were nothing but courteous and helpful.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      Same here! I visited Battery Park in June and I saw cops giving directions to the thousands of tourists and taking pictures with little ones. Way better than the county police here, i'd say.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Marcia Irving

    God bless both of them. This type of story makes me realize that giving is by far better than receiving. Next time I pass a bell ringer, I'll put something in instead of hurrying by because this officer set the example for me.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. D Forbe

    This sure would not happen in Placentia, CA. Our officers are the rudest, least willing to listen or get involved, least objective enforcers I've ever met, and among the highest paid in the country.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NW(without)A

    Love da Poelice!

    November 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rob

    ..."employee discount?"... isn't that just a euphemism for graft? typical cop!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Robinson

      It was not "graft" for the cop, fool.
      It was charity for the barefoot man.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jeremyhornephd

    Award time for this unusually fantastic officer! Hopefully, the NYPD management will say the same.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
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