A simple act of kindness turned a city cop into an Internet sensation, but he insists he was just doing his job.
On a cold November night in Times Square, Officer Lawrence DePrimo was working a counterterrorism post when he encountered an older, barefooted homeless man. The officer disappeared for a moment, then returned with a new pair of boots, and knelt to help the man put them on.
“I had two pairs of wool winter socks and combat boots, and I was cold,” DePrimo, 25, said Wednesday, recalling the night of Nov. 14, when he encountered an unidentified, shoeless man on the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue near 44th Street, reports the Huffington Post.
The homeless man “didn’t even have a pair of socks on and I could only imagine how cold that pavement was,” DePrimo said, clutching a box containing cufflinks given to him by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
The officer walked to a Skechers store on 42nd Street and shelled out $75 for insulated winter boots and thermal socks. He returned to the man, knelt down and put the footwear on him.
The act of kindness would have gone unnoticed and mostly forgotten, had it not been for a tourist from Arizona, who snapped a photo of DePrimo, of Holbrook, giving the man socks and boots to ward off the cold, the image became an instant hit on the NYPD’s Facebook page.
Jennifer Foster, a woman, who made a photo, 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.’
She continued: “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.”
By Wednesday evening, the post had been viewed 1.6 million times, and had attracted nearly 275,000 “likes” and more than 16,000 comments — a runaway hit for a Police Department that waded warily onto the social media platform this summer with mostly canned photos of gun seizures, award ceremonies and the police commissioner.
People aren’t just liking the photo, though. They’re also commenting like wild, with everyone expressing the same sentiment in different words.
A lot of people were moved by DePrimo’s selfless act, saying ”This action gives me a warm feeling, even here in The Netherlands!”. Another user commented: ”I wish more people were like this. This is in NY and would be the last place I would see this type of kindness!”
“When you’re a police officer, you’re just out there to help people,” said DePrimo. “And in situations like this, you just do what you have to do.”
The young cop, who has been on the job for two years, said he didn’t even know someone had taken the picture.