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. nels

    Breaking News!! NYC homeless man robbed for his new shoes.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JustAnn

    And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    Matthew 25:40

    November 29, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SDcanyon

    The only reason you don't see these types of stories everyday is because only the horror stories are reported on. I guarantee this is a daily occurrence across America.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tiredoldman

    Nice to see a police officer that has actually read what the emblem on the side of his patrol car says. Protect ans serve.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Doesnt say that on my car. Been police for 12 years. we are there to save your ass not kiss it.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jack from Mn

    The giver need not worry if he is being scammed because it is the act of sacrifice combined with trying to help someone else that counts. When this life is over, the people that gave to those in need will go to Heaven. It is not clear what will happen to scanners, but I am sure they will have a different experience.

    Jack

    November 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      LOL what are you talking about

      November 29, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Elite financial

    Good for this officer, not only is the world taking notice, but GOD is smiling down on him. If everyone could just make 1 nice jesture a week to help a loved one, friend, or stranger. We might be able to eventually find a way to all co-exist. I really hope this becomes a movement. One small good deed for a man, one GIANT lesson for mankind!!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. love

    he was Jesus . I hope you know this.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Yes. Some see it. I feel for those who do not see it.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • :)

      LOVE!!!! .May we do the same! Done without expectation or anything that can be done for ME!

      November 30, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
    • JD

      Or you could give the officer himself credit.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. Alex

    Nice Copper

    November 29, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Daniel

    God bless you Officer DePrimo and may your family have a wonderful Christmas as clearly the spirit of generosity lives in your heart!

    November 29, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AE Pucc

    Wow, a good deed, way to go officer, this should be commonplace , not headline news, inspirational!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JOSE--USMC-0311

    LETS ALL SEND HIM A $ 25 DOLLAR GIFT FOR CHRISTMAS.

    TO. THE HOMELESS MAN, C/O N.Y.P.D. OFFICER LARRY DEPRIMO , HOLBROOK, N.Y. 11741.

    November 29, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. California79

    So the Arizona cop was wondering why the office did not ask the guy for his papers and see if he can deport him. Newy

    November 29, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      Long Long way to go for that to happen in Arizona. May be God doesn't like that place.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Shane Sepac

    Dont let this distract you from all the police brutality and other forms of power abuse ever so prevalent every single day.

    November 29, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason TX

      Are you serious? Are you really so taken in by media sensationalism that you think corruption is more prevalent than kindness in our police forces? I grew up around cops, and they take so much crap for doing what? Enforcing the law and trying to keep people safe. I have seen countless acts of compassion and kindness from officers, especially in my time as a reporter. Unfortunately, that is rarely deemed news in favor of more negative events.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. citizenn

    Well, the police should be judged by their actions, but this will have to include ALL of their actions.

    November 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Name*Michael Lloyd-White

    What matters is people rediscovering their care factor over the fear factor.

    It takes courage to be kind to a stranger and fear is our greatest challenge.
    Rhinitis CNN for deming kindness news worthy.

    November 29, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
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