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. BC.

    My mom used to say to me back in the day...." Watch how you treat a stranger, he just might be an angel".

    November 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • djbabydoll

      How very true.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Retired LE

      Well said.

      November 30, 2012 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      "C. My mom used to say to me back in the day...." Watch how you treat a stranger, he just might be an angel".

      Or the devil.

      November 30, 2012 at 5:21 am | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob

      "Whatsoever you do to the least of My brothers, that you do unto me."

      November 30, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom the Other One

      Quoting mythology..nice. Might as well quote Voltron.

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

      please make sure you send that to the "right wing" in the House when they're cutting SS, Food Stamps and welfare while bloating the MIC and private contractors pockets

      November 30, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • christ01

      Well said brother, well said !!!! If more people felt this way, we could make this world better !!!

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

      Your mom was attempting to use fairy tales to make you treat people better. Sad that people think they have to give an excuse to treat people well.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • TW

      Sad that you are so mean spirited, hateful and disrespectful of other's beliefs.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Spirit In Disguise

      Yes! My dear Mother would often tell me the same thing except she would say that in the case of a man it could be Jesus posing like that just to see what people would do and what kind of heart they had. In the case of a woman it could be the Virgin Mary. Therefore, the moral of the story is to Open Your Heart and Help the Poor. When you do so, God sees that and helps and blesses you all the more.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Yeah, I guess you could do something nice for someone in need to get in God's good graces.

      Or you could just do it because, you know, you're a decent human being.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. mikebo

    If this was a scam then the guy will have to answer on judgement day.I've been to NY once .This was back in Dec 1989.I read a story in the USA newspaper.This woman passes this guy everyday on her way to her job.He had a blanket across his legs and two legs laying beside him.The woman said one day something said to give him some money.She then was walking and something said to turn around.The guy was walking down the street with both wooden legs over his shoulders.

    November 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gigboy

      I think you forgot that there was a mention of "blisters", which appear to be present in photo. Not everything is a
      con job, just because you want it to be and you find an act like this impossible. Reason being, is because you are not the type of person who would be so kind as the officer, but more of the type of character that would scart off with money after posing to be legless.

      November 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BOMBO ©

    The first bit reminded me of a classic Barney Miller exchange years ago. Harris was sick and it was cold and raining outside. He was going on and on, looking for sympathy. Then Wojo came at him with some uncharacteristic wisdom, quoting something:

    Wojo: I felt bad because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.

    Harris: Oh, is HE out there again?

    November 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BOMBO ©

    How much money is a vagrant going to make selling used shoes? Not enough to justify being barefoot most of the time.

    November 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • djs

      Because he has made all the right decisions thus far, right?

      November 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. keshaun

    I would of did it because I would not want something on my record.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Goefig

      Honestly, this is something I would have done easily and probably most likely the reason I have not hit the lotto, because I would spend it helping others. However, I must say that this officer went above and beyond with $100 sketchers. I am also appalled at the remarks of the store merchant that no one seems to address: “We were just kind of shocked,” said Jose Cano, 28, a manager working at the store that night. “Most of us are New Yorkers and we just kind of pass by that kind of thing. Especially in this neighborhood.” What an idiot – that is why the neighborhood is the way it is and it is not because of the shoeless – but because of the shoe merchants!

      November 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Imelda Marcos

    Who in his right mind would give away shoes? This man is clearly insane.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Byrd

    The guy's not an angel, he's a human being. In spite of what you've been told elsewhere, angels just don't do those kind of things.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    Obviously the police officer was familiar with JC.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dave

    those new shoes ca get that guy 4 rocks

    November 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. korke aika

    New York City is a very safe, human, caring place with a wonderful Mayor who works tirelessly to shelter the homeless, champion issues that effect everyday people, and reach out to immigrants from all over the world. Who should be surprised that this act of kindness took place in NYC? Signed Brooklynite

    November 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SaChief

    Dumb policeman feel for an old trick used by these useless leeches. These bums should be locked up for being eyesores

    November 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Plumbline

    Proverbs 19:17
    He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. brad

    people are missing the point here, the point is the police officer, not the vagrant. It matters not what he does with the shoes,
    Its the good deed of the police officer who is human.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rlj

    Whether or not this was a scam has not the slightest relevance to recognizing the goodness of this officer's heart – may he always be blessed with this most admirable of human qualities – it can only bring him happiness.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AmericanPeasant

    Normally I don't have much good to say about the cops. However, this is a great story and a great cop. A fine example to cops everywhere! Give this guy a pay raise and keep up the good work.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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