When NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo saw an older homeless man sitting outside a store on 42nd Street without shoes or socks on a freezing night, there was no hesitation on his part to help.
DePrimo was on counterterrorism patrol on November 14 in Times Square when he came across the man. He immediately went to a nearby Skechers shoe store, purchased socks and a $100 pair of boots out of his own money.
The officer’s generous act of compassion was caught on camera unbeknownst to him by Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Arizona and also the Communications Director for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.
Foster said she saw the man asking for change and just as she was about to approach him, the officer appeared. She took a photo of the interaction and then emailed it to the NYPD with a note commending the officer.
She wrote: “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.”
The NYPD posted the photo and Foster’s note to their official Facebook page and it immediately went viral with over 425,000 “likes”, 142,000 “shares” and generating 31,000 comments.
“I still have a grudge against law enforcement everywhere,” wrote one commenter on the police Facebook page. “But my respects to that fine officer.”
Officer DePrimo, 25, is a three year veteran of the NYPD , lives at home with his parents on Long Island said he was shocked at the attention and had no idea Foster was watching let alone taking a photo.
DePrimo said it was freezing that night and he could see the blisters on the man’s feet. He went on to say he had two pairs of socks on himself and still was cold.
The man’s face lit up when DePrima returned with the boots, knelt down beside him and put them on.
The officer said he never did get the homeless man’s name but he was “the most polite gentleman he had met”. DePrima even offered to buy the man a hot cup of coffee but as soon as the boots were on, the man declined and went on his way.