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. stu

    It figures he s italian (ps..Im not)

    November 29, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jeannene

    I've met the good kind of cop like this guy, and I've met the ones who are just out to be a drag and all hopped up on...I dunno...their ego? Anyway, they're all just people too, all types. Same as the stranger, so, what if he DOES return the boots? So the guys got a ten dollar bill in his pocket for a day, since when is that a crime? Does anyone really believe it's NICE to live out of a shopping cart?!?! Bless them both, I say.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. new yorker

    It was a nice gesture by the cop. Too bad he wasted his money. I work in the Times Square area and see this "barefoot homeless man" frequently. Guess what. He is only barefoot in the winter. He has shoes and socks in all the other seasons. And full length pants too.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. HanValen5150

    The only think I have seen a cop give a homeless person is a beating until he was dead. Perhaps OC pigs should take a lesson from this cop.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Been there

    I lived near New York for a long time. The police there do these types of things often. Watch a parade there... the are part of it not just securing it. They are not bad guys and the cify is a place of true caring people. I met some great people while living in the North East and many of them just wanted to be nice. New Yorkers have a bad rap.... they would do anything for anyone and if you ever want to see a group of people pull together... look at New Yorkers.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. lydia collins

    New yorkers are very giving! This officer did a very kind thing to help this man. This is not his job to cloth the homeless! He did this random act of kindness as a human being!

    November 29, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Frayie Otieno

    Great hearts inspire.

    November 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Jerome Horowitz

    Cops are like any other folks – some are good, some are bad. This guy was a good guy. Leave it at that.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Susan Giffen

    Regardless of the response the officer got or whether or not the homeless guy ran a scam, I believe in random acts of kindness and this police officer is an inspiration to everyone!!!!
    Wish there were more like him.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Inspired

    What a beautiful man. There is nothing so heroic as making a difference one person at a time.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. noperz

    Something about christmas, we often only see the materialistic side but the good it does is a reminder of helping others in need. Nice

    November 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Luther Henry

    I was a police officer for 26 years for a mid size city in Pennsylvania. One bitter cold winter night I saw an older man standing alongside a large hotel over the sidewalk grates where the steam came up from the laundry room in the basement. He was not dressed very warm and appeared to be very cold. I stopped my cruiser and convinced him to let me take him to the nearby Police Station and put him up as a lodger for the rest of the night and that we would even provide him with an egg sandwich and coffee for breakfast. He had a number of bags with him and I took them and him into the station and we logged him in and put him in a juvenile cell which were more comfortable than the regular cells. We discovered that he had only recently been released from a nearby Veterans Hospital and that he had over $90,000 in cash in those bags. We called the hospital and they came and returned him the next morning along with his money and rest of his belongings.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Mac

    1 in 10,000,000 The rest would rather beat or intimidate the masses then try to help someone.
    This is a cop to be remembered for his kindness going above and beyond the call of duty.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. chuck

    hebrews 13:1-4 we entertain angels unaWARE

    November 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. JZG

    With all the news stories of cops beating or killing people, its nice to see there are still some good cops left. A cop's job is to help people, and this cop did great with that.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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