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. gladiatorgrl

    ChiefGunner

    If this is "the kinds of things that women routinely do" why did the homeless man not already have a pair of shoes?
    _____________________
    because the TAX EXEMPT CHURCH that's SUPPOSED to be doing this "charity" doesn't. Trickle down doesn't trickle down

    We HAVE to do better for our fellow Americans who are mentally ill hopefully with Obamacare we can get these people back off the streets.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. CVF

    The cop is not a veteran, he's a rookie and not very street smart. Never give to anyone on the street because you don't know if they are panhandling or not.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Jaded, much?

      November 30, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  3. David Barlage

    What this officer did was very humane andI feel that any act of unsolicited charity should be called a "DePRIMO" !

    November 30, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jrod

    I agree it was probably a scam but it doesn't diminish the officer's act of kindness. I hope the officer from Arizona can take that good will back to her state and the Fuhrer Jan Brewer and her henchman Joe Arpaio.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Deep State

    "He carries around the Skechers' receipt in his bulletproof vest as a reminder of the people that he and fellow officers serve." This viral piece of propaganda is beginning to become absurd...

    NYPD buys a homeless man a pair of Skechers? Sorry attempt at absolution for the recent crime wave perpetrated by PD members (see: the killing of Noel Polanco et. al.)

    November 30, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Deep State

      Kitty Litter = Ignorance is Strength

      November 30, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Deep State

      Look at all of the bleeding hearts come out of the woodwork. Learn to recognize propaganda when you see it...

      November 30, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • rnm

      You have no idea what you are talking about Deep State. 99% on NYPD are phenomenal people. And, just like every other profession in the world, there are some who abuse their position. But don't for one second think we would be better off without them, cause we all know that is untrue.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Deep State

      I am not criticizing the department and its actions good or bad. I am criticizing the use of propaganda to sway public opinion.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Madtown

      I kind of understand the cynicism, but this doesn't seem at all like something that was discussed in a department meeting. This seems like a genuine, spontaneous gesture. The word hero is thrown around way too easily in this country, but it should be used to describe people like this guy.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Pay it forward

      This story has nothing to do with whether or not the guy is a scammer or anything else. The fact of the matter is that this police officer made a kind gesture for someone in need, that's it. The take home message here should be that more people should do kind things for people, sort of like a pay it forward. Don't be selfish, but be selfless sometimes. If everyone did one kind thing for someone else imagine the change in humanity.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Jocelyn

      I really have to know?..would it kill you to lose some of that sarcasm and cynicism? The idea that someone did something kind for someone else and that people like that and strive to do the same just kills people like you. You have to come out and say something negative, rude or hateful and be the buzz kill in the room. I understand misery loves company but so does joy. Just for once, try coming over to our side instead of trying to drag everyone down to yours. This was a nice story filled with human kindness...and yet there are always those Debbie Downers out there who have to insist on finding the hatefulness in everything. That reflects on you and your life most likely and it's sad...try finding some happiness and spreading that around instead of your misery...it will be much more satisfying. God bless!

      November 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ForGoodOfAll

    I would like to read many more inspiring stories about acts of kindness and decency toward our fellow man. Thank you for this article.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. gladiatorgrl

    where's the TAX EXEMPT CHURCH for this man? WHY are their buildings empty? isn't "charity" WHY they're supposed to be tax exempt?

    November 30, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Kitty Litter

      Where's the government? Where are all the tax dollars going to help people like this?

      November 30, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      They are tax exempt because of their not for profit nature. Just like a soccer club. Not because of charity. That said, they should be helping out and some are... just not enough.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      The church is there, I came up from VA to help a Staten Island church with storm relief. But we can't reach everyone. Maybe if more people got involved with churches instead of going on CNN to complain about them, this wouldn't be the case.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Marlena

    In the end, it doesn't matter if the homeless man was panhandling or conning the officer or not. What matters is that this cop showed humanity, compassion, and kindness. He will be blessed himself and his act will be an inspiration to thousands to open their hearts just a little bit more. That's more important than whether or not the homeless man "needed" these shoes or was just conning.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Truthbetold

    I'm very sorry to see so many people with hatred in their hearts that can't see this story for what it is....the best side of the human race. I honestly feel sorry for the people that have to turn this into negativity. Your lives must be miserable.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • OMG

      U cops around the U.S need to follow this dude. Because all the cops I saw they were all lie, and abuse power. For the record, I never been in any type trouble with the law or cop.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. Afsana

    This officer performed a charitable act out of the kindness of his heart and did not expect a thing in return. I don't think we should let the possibility of a beggar running a scam overshadow that. People like DePrimo renew my faith in the human race and inspire me to be the best person I can be.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Kitty Litter

      People like you and this officer make ther world a better place. Thank-you.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    Now the guy can finally go get a job or something productive.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. Brian

    Who are these people that accuse this barefooted man of being a con-artist? They are the burdens of our society that drag us all down with their ignorance.

    If this man went to this length to get a pair of shoes then let him receive acts of kindness. What fool would think a full functioning human being capable of working and taking care of themselves would stoop to this level to get multiple pairs of shoes. If you are this ignorant please gather all of your belongings and go to your island of isolation and eventually society will hopefully somoeday be rid of you.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Amen. It is my duty as a Christian to give to all who ask or whom appear to me to be in need. I am to give willingly and cheerfully. I am not to judge their worthiness nor question their motives. That which I give freely cannot be stolen by the person I give to, no matter what their situation, motives or true condition. My conscience tells me that this is the true definition of charity. May God bless both the giver and the receiver.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kitty Litter

    Morals are what you do when you think no one is watching.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. Pete

    Minutes after the cop was out of sight until the boots were stolen?

    November 30, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. adrian1944

    I know this won't matter to the ones of you who don't believe, but yes it could have been an Angel or Jesus himself!
    Angels unaware

    November 30, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
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