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. Compass

    Tom, where, exactly, do you get your ideas? The news front page? I explained why the news is fundamentally flawed on the previous comment page. Snowball effect.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. justmeanddog

    Maybe I am wrong about the fate of the human species.
    Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for us as long as there are people like this officer in the gene pool.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jt_flyer

    We need more like this fine officer. Thank you.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. donny

    this is a good cop. god will bless him in many ways. ever one needs to help some one get back like it use to be 30 years ago good cop keep up the good work.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
    • bob

      which God ? Zues, Ra or one of the many man has made up over the years ?

      November 30, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. flo

    Total setup.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
    • ChiefGunner

      What a sad, jaded world you live in.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Sharp

      Read the article. The homeless man had blisters "The size of your hand" on his feet. NOBODY does that as a scam

      November 30, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Jojo

      I agree, this is the same guy that was beating/shooting/pepper spraying people a year ago at the Occupy movement, how quickly people forget....

      November 30, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. mannymoose

    Why do men need so much glory, attention, and stroking for the kinds of things that women routinely do?

    November 30, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Jt_flyer

      Silly comment. .

      November 30, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • george v

      umm Flo you don't get it. It doesn't matter if it was a setup. It was the police officer who was impressive!!

      He is a good person and it would be great to see more people like him.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • ChiefGunner

      If this is "the kinds of things that women routinely do" why did the homeless man not already have a pair of shoes?

      November 30, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • KimmyK

      it's not like the man asked someone to take a picture of him and post it on the internet, he didn't even know. Therefore his actions were completely done based on his compassion for a man w/o shoes in NY city during the winter. Its receiving such recognition b/c in this day and time acts of real kindness and compassion towards others is hard to find. So when it, is it deserves to be regarded w/thanks.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • mannymoose

      Yawn. Acts of kindness, humanity, and sacrifice really aren't as rare as you claim. However, in general, men seem to need and in fact are rewarded with statues of themselves, portrait-lined halls, medal-pinning ceremonies, trophies, banners, parades, you name it, etc. etc.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kay

    I don't think it was staged, but I do think that in all likelihood it was simply a matter of a young, idealistic person being suckered in by an experienced scam artist. He's not parked shoeless in front of a shoe store for no reason. The cop shouldn't be surprised if he walks by the guy again to find he's still barefoot and the boots and socks nowhere in sight.

    Yes, it's sad that we have to consider such things, but it's also sad that there are people out there who prey on the compassionate because they see them as soft touches and suckers. The problem is that there's no way to tell who's truly in need and who's thinking, "Thanks for the handout, chump." Which is why it's safer to give to organizations that help the homless rather than directly to the homeless themselves.

    November 30, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • majestic_lizard

      Scam artists do not beg for shoes by being barefoot in freezing weather. There is this thing called death.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jt_flyer

    Random acts of kindness show a persons true character. Officer Larry... I have a sister living in queens that's about your age. Just saying....

    November 30, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom the Other One

      It's a trap!

      November 30, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jerri Love

    What a wonderfully kind thing to do.. Random acts of kindness from anyone is a Heartfelt joy to all and what a wonderful ripple to put into the universe.. Thank you Jennifer Foster for making us aware of this kind act.. And Thank you Officer DePrimo for caring and sharing. It is so nice to hear these types of stories.. May we all find more love in our hearts and more empathy in our souls. Goddess Bless. 🙂

    November 30, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. imvotingforobama

    I'm still waiting for my "gifts" from President Obama that he supposedly promised me for voting for him.

    November 30, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
    • gladiatorgrl

      awww... still believing what Fox News tells ya – don't hold your breath (oh wait actually go ahead hold it till you get those gifts that Fox says your gonna get)

      p.s. please post the quote from Obama that said that with the source... (I WON'T be holding my breath for it)

      p.s.s. don't you think maybe the TAX EXEMPT CHURCH should have provided him with some?? isn't that WHY they're supposed to be tax exempt for?? Charity?

      November 30, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jason Branson

    He's homeless..........not incapable of putting his own shoes on.

    November 30, 2012 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
  12. nixliberals

    It is good to see such an act of kindness from any police officer, as we too frequently hear about officers abusing citizens. This is proof that there are compassionate people in the ranks and he deserves the praise he is getting. It was a self-less act and I hope God returns the favor for him.

    November 30, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    while the moment of kindness is to be commended,the sad part is that this is what's wrong with charity, that it will temporarily make the homeless man feel good and further blind him and others to the real injustice he is enduring: living homeless in the united states.

    also, the fact that the sketchers employee and the police officer both were interviewed makes me believe this was staged.

    November 30, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. jo rossi

    hopefully he wont be mugged for them (just saying, its happened before)

    November 30, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. gladiatorgrl

    “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”
    Seneca (Roman philosopher)

    having said that WHERE's the TAX EXEMPT CHURCH!!! isn't this WHY they're supposed to be tax exempt??

    November 30, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
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