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

    so sick of hearing about New York and Chicago like these are the only places in Anerica worth reporting from

    November 30, 2012 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
  2. Medicine Man

    I applaud Larry DePrimo's actions. For someone so young and new to the Force, his maturity belies his age.

    My late father was a police officer for 35 years in the UK, and this was the kind of thing he did all his working life. Our house was a staging post for battered wives and their children, for example. And my Dad's concern for his fellow man wasn't just a PR stunt for the public (who never knew about him anyway); he was also a representative in the equivalent of the police union (Police Federation), ending up as a member of the JCC – so he also acted on behalf of his fellow officers.

    If we had more Larry DePrimos the US (if not the world) would be a distinctly better place.

    November 30, 2012 at 4:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. mik

    Simply gracious!

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

    Whether the guy was scamming people by not having on shoes as a ploy to beg has no bearing on the fact that the cop did a good deed. His blessing will come. He did what he did out of the kindness of his heart and without knowing he was being watched. Good for him!

    November 30, 2012 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Rudolf vs

      This was good to see; it warmed my hearth, Kudos to the officer!

      November 30, 2012 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Muwonge

      every human being on this planet has this in him, so find it and use it!

      November 30, 2012 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. nots

    Good thing this didn't happen in a state where filming the cops is against the law.

    November 30, 2012 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Edward C

      It is not illegal to film a cop in any state. Sometimes it may get sketchy depending on a State's wiretapping laws, but that usually is reserved if the recording is being made discreetly, and without the knowledge of all people involved. The Supreme Court has ruled it is perfectly legal to film the police. If you want to cover all your bases, you could say "I am filming you, and if you don't like it, you are free to go at any time".

      November 30, 2012 at 5:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. Franky

    There is a sucker born every minute!!!! I'm kidding....I think?

    November 30, 2012 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      Just focus on the good deed done by the police officer, hope he's in my corner if I ever need it.

      November 30, 2012 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. ray

    Bunch of Monday morning quaterbacks.

    November 30, 2012 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Chewmybacca

      It's Friday

      November 30, 2012 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tom

    There are a few cops that are whole heartedly trying their best to be true but this is a rare moment because they are certainly the few. The rest do it purely for PR motives, political and promotional gains. Authority requires charity otherwise the people will not trust them, government physiology 101.

    November 30, 2012 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. RegMac

    Pay it forward, loved the movie, love this good person who felt so bad for a fellow human being, he took the time to help. We all know when we give homeless people money, they may turn around and buy booze. There is also a good possibility the homeless person is hungry. My son and I stopped at a traffic light a few years ago. There was a homeless man standing in the median with a sign that read " homeless vet, please help, god bless",, . My heart sank when I when I saw tears running down his face, my heart practically stopped when I realized it was my brother. My brother has PTSD and chose alcohol to self medicate, causing so many problems my family had to disown him. Bryon often told me he hated booze, he told me its the only thing that numbs the pain and makes life bearable. I knew he lived under a bridge three blocks from my house so I often took him to a hotel and paid for a weeks stay and gave him a few bucks. Bryon is now sober, receives VA benefits and for the first time in 20 years is happy, so happy he is looking forward to the future. I will never forget the sight of bryon crying on the street corner out of the humiliation he felt at my son and I seeing him like that.

    November 30, 2012 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Former Cop

    I am a former cop and I'll tell you that THIS is rare, especially from the likes of the NYPD, my brother has been living in NY for the past 12 years and is an accomplished architect and he has been constantly targeted and disrespected from New York's "finest". He follows the rules and is very generous to strangers and he gets crap when it comes to the city's officers. He has run into a handful that are like this officer, I just wish there were more like him, this gentleman is what an officer SHOULD represent in our nation...kudos.

    November 30, 2012 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  11. That Guy

    Nice seeing a good deed instead of a dead guy by the police

    November 30, 2012 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. James

    I would rather take the chance of getting scammed than walk away from the opportunity to help someone in need... Those who truly need compassion from us shouldn't suffer at the hands of those who seek to take advantage.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    Mark

    This is amazing story, I wish this police officer the very best of everything, If I would have hit th powerball this officer would have been the 1st Iwould have helped , I think God tested him and he passd his test. I wonder how many people went by this man and just did not care ,God Bless you always for your unbelieveale kindness from your HEART

    November 30, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Claire

      That's great that if you won the lottery you'd help this cop. But don't you think HE isn't the one who needs the help?
      I'd help the homeles man! Sure...maybe a little something for the cop and his family.....but it's the homeless man who needs the help!

      November 30, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. George

    Excellent pr propaganda stunt.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. bob

    The one thing that really stuck out for me in this article was this:
    "I really dont like cops ive been in the situation of being searched and arrested for spitting on the sidewalk"

    How about not spitting on the sidewalk?

    November 30, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
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