NYPD officer’s kindness sparks online sensation

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NEW YORK (AP) – A tourist's snapshot of a New
York City police officer giving new boots to a barefoot homeless man in
Times Square has created an online sensation.

Jennifer Foster, of
Florence, Ariz., was visiting New York with her husband on Nov. 14, when
she came across the shoeless man asking for change in Times Square.

As she was about to
approach him, she said the officer – identified as Larry DePrimo – came
up to the man with a pair of all-weather boots and thermal socks on the
frigid night. She recorded his generosity on her cellphone.

It was posted Tuesday night
to the NYPD's official Facebook page and became an instant hit. More
than 325,000 users “liked” it as of Thursday morning, and over 79,000
shared it.

Thousands of people commented, including one person who praised him as “An officer AND a Gentleman.”

The photo shows the officer kneeling beside the man with the boots at his feet. A shoe store is seen in the background.

The NYPD Facebook page on
Thursday posted a comment from DePrimo saying “I didn't think anything
of it” and updated it with a photo of DePrimo taken in 2011.

“'I have these size 12
boots for you, they are all-weather. Let's put them on and take care of
you,'” Foster quoted DePrimo as saying to the homeless man. “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.”

Foster said she's worked in law enforcement for 17 years and has never been more impressed.

“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,” Foster
wrote on Facebook. She said she never got the officer's name.

DePrimo, who is assigned to
the Sixth Precinct and lives on Long Island, told Newsday that the
homeless man “smiled from ear to ear” after getting the boots.

“It was like you gave him a million dollars,” he added.

He told The New York Times
that he keeps the receipt for the boots in his vest to remind him “that
sometimes people have it worse.”

View the picture on the NYPD Facebook page here.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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