On a November 14 trip to New York City, Arizona tourist Jennifer Foster snapped this cell phone photo of an NYPD police officer, later identified as Officer Lawrence DePrimo, offering a pair of shoes to a barefoot homeless man. When she sent the photo to the NYPD, they promptly posted it to Facebook, where it has received more than 327,000 likes and has been shared 81,000 times.
Foster, a communications director for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office in Arizona, told the NYPD what happened when she saw a homeless man asking for change:
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.”
According to the New York Times, the 25-year-old officer did not know about the photo and was not told before it went online.
As the man walked slowly down Seventh Avenue on his heels, Officer DePrimo went into a Skechers shoe store at about 9:30 p.m. “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.”
Mr. Cano volunteered to give the officer his employee discount to bring down the regular $100 price of the all-weather boots to a little more than $75. The officer has kept the receipt in his vest since then, he said, “to remind me that sometimes people have it worse.”
The photo has received more than 21,000 comments on Facebook, with many offering their heartfelt thank-you's to police officers everywhere:
"When I was little, and my brother and sister, we didn't have much, not many toys. An officer went and got all 3 of us new bikes. Shows that there are good people in the world!" wrote Leanne Marie.
[New York Times]
UPDATE: Officer DePrimo appeared on both the "Today" show and "Fox & Friends" Friday morning to discuss the act of kindness that made him an Internet star. Jennifer Foster, the Arizona tourist who snapped the photo, sat beside him for his "Today" show interview.