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A photo of a New York City police officer kneeling down to give a barefoot homeless man in Times Square a pair of boots on a cold November night is melting even the iciest New Yorkers’ hearts online.
On Nov. 14, NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo, who was on counterterrorism duty in Times Square, saw the older homeless man without shoes sitting on 42nd Street. DePrimo, 25, left and then returned with a pair of $100 boots he bought at a nearby Skechers store.
“It was freezing out, and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,” DePrimo, a three-year veteran of the department who lives with his parents on Long Island, told the New York Times. “I had two pairs of socks, and I was still cold.”
The random act of kindness was captured by Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Florence, Ariz., who was visiting the city. Foster, communications director for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona, emailed the photo to the NYPD with a note commending DePrimo.
“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,'” Foster wrote. “The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man.
“I have been in law enforcement for 17 years,” she continued. “I was never so impressed in my life. … 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.”
Foster’s photo was posted on the NYPD’s Facebook page on Tuesday, where it received more than 320,000 “likes,” 77,000 “shares” and 20,000 comments—most of them praising DePrimo, who seems to have restored Facebook’s faith in humanity.
“This is one hell of a police officer,” Desiree Wright-Borden wrote.
“Wow,” Jack Horton wrote. “It’s nice to know there are still good people out there.”
“Angels truly do walk on earth!!!” Charlene Hoffman-Pestell wrote.
Some commenters, though, were skeptical, saying the photo could have been staged.
“Clever stunt!” Louis Zehmke wrote. “The hobo is ‘parked’ at the entrance of a shoe shop.”
But Foster claims DePrimo had no idea he was being photographed: “The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching.”