The holiday season is a season full of hope, gratitude, celebration and giving. Earlier this month on a chilly night in New York City, this was never more evident when an Arizona couple spotted a young New York City police officer offer a pair of new boots to a shoeless homeless man in Times Square. The photo taken from a smart phone has since gone viral over the internet after it was posted on the NYPD Facebook Page two days ago.
Jennifer Foster of Florence, Arizona and her husband were in Times Square on November 14 when she spotted a homeless man asking for spare change from passerbys. But before she could reach him, an officer identified as Larry DePrimo of Long Island, appeared and knelt down to offer the homeless man a pair of boots he purchased for $100 from a nearby shoe store. The young officer’s act of kindness compelled Ms. Foster to express her thoughts on the NYPD 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.”
In just a few days, Officer DePrimo’s story on the NYPD Facebook Page has received nearly 450,000 “likes” and over 33,000 comments, mostly positive. Some online comments suggest that the whole act was a complete hoax to reap rewards and adulation for Officer DePrimo but that’s highly unlikely or warranted.
Needless to say, his superiors are quite proud of their young officer, who’s only been with the NYPD for two years. Earlier this morning, Officer DePrimo appeared in an interview with CBS and alluded to some advice from his grandfather, who once told him “If you are going to do something, do it 100 percent. And do it, or don’t do it at all.'” Officer DePrimo said that his grandfather’s word of advice has stuck with him his entire life. The young officer also said that the unidentified homeless man smiled from ear to ear when he received a new pair of boots and socks. The owner of the shoe store found about the story and offered a 25 percent discount off the purchase from DePrimo.
Across the country, police officers are in the news on a daily basis, oftentimes in a positive light but also oftentimes negatively. And sadly sometimes the news of an officer is tragic. While the legions of American police officers are overwhelmingly gallant, loyal and honest, there is a small percentage that creates profound hostility from the very citizens they were sworn to protect. Alleged acts of police brutality were commonplace during some Occupy Wall Street protests, as well as other parts of the country, like in Oakland and Los Angeles. But all it takes is one simple act of kindness that reinvigorates what many consider the true meaning of the holidays.