Photo of NYPD Police Officer’s Random Act of Kindness Goes Viral

Candid snapshots that go viral online are often spread because they show people doing something embarrassing or stupid, so it’s refreshing to see a photo of a different sort taking the web by storm. The photo in question is of a police officer’s random act of kindness, snapped by an Arizona woman named Jennifer Foster when she was visting New York City back on November 14th.

Here’s Foster’s account of what she witnessed as she approached a shoeless homeless man:

Right when I was about to approach, one of [the NYPD’s] 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.

Foster sent the photo to the New York Police Department, which in turn cropped the image (for a closer view) and shared it on their Facebook page this past Tuesday along with Foster’s story. This is what resulted over the past two days:

The image has amassed nearly half a million likes so far in that short span. That’s not all though: media outlets across the country are now sharing the photo, including the New York Times.

Although the officer was not seeking attention through his actions, he is no longer anonymous. The man is 25-year-old Larry DePrimo, who is pictured here in this photo from 2011:

The New York Times reports:

[DePrimo] readily recalled the encounter. “It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet […] I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold.” They started talking; he found out the man’s shoe size: 12. 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 [store manager] Jose Cano […] “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.”

This is a great example of photo sharing being used to inspire and touch lives.

(via NYPD via NYTimes via Laughing Squid)

Update: The story has gotten pretty big in the media… big enough that DePrimo was asked to give a press conference to tell his story:

Image credit: Photograph by Jennifer Foster

  • Devin

    “woman named Jennifer Foster when he was”

    Don’t you mean she was?

  • Seb Harris

    This is what I like to see on PetaPixel.
    A story about a photograph that inspired and touched the lives of others, where no criticism can be dealt.

  • Zágros Os

    faith in humanity .. restored! .. we need more people like Deprimo .. this world will be much better then.

  • Perceptivelight – Australia

    In these sad times for our American couzins it is wonderful to see that a sense of brotherly love to another unknown human has not been lost by individuals in the police service who are all too often scorned…

  • John Anderson

    This is a great story. I do think there are many random acts of kindness… They just
    go unseen.

  • Sum_it

    I love how people are praising the cop for providing a pair of shoe to
    the homeless. It is a very kind gesture for sure. But people often seem
    to forget how much of a hero these NYPD and other public service
    men/women are on a DAILY basis.

  • Savita Govilkar

    In India , cops are barely able to afford shoes for themselves… I really appreciate this cop’s actionss

  • rusty shackleford

    i read this entire thing in a new york accent..couldnt help it

  • Dhiram

    Not true at all Savita.

  • 9inchnail

    This totally makes up for all the homeless people that are hassled and frightened away by the police so that you’re not inconvenienced during your shopping sprees.

    I’ve witnessed a similar act of kindness when an elderly man took a homeless man off the street into a sneaker shop to buy him a pair of shoes. The clerks in that store did NOT like that, though. They were obviously afraid, their regular customers might be offended.

  • Alexander Petricca

    What an absolute gent.

  • rivertalker

    I thought photography was the most powerful force, I was wrong. It’s love. Joyeux Noel to you all.

  • dumpty

    Sorry to be a cynic but I thought it was protocol to be beat the living daylights out of anyone who photographed an officer.. or does that only apply when the officer is breaking the law? But for sure.. it’s a nice gesture and departure from usual stories we here related to NYC police and homeless people.

  • phil

    We need more of this people. I hope that the massive response and press this photo and story are getting grows and spreads into every community in the country, inspiring millions of people to do something like this officer did. It’s great to feel good about it, but what will make this example even more meaningful is if it helps make it cool to do something positive for someone we see needs help, not pity. Since we’re all connected nowadays, we all really have the ability to change the world for the better because we can’t wait for Washington to do it – that’s for sure. I hope we see more of these acts of kindness go viral in coming weeks and months, because aren’t we all ‘over’ the smut, gossip, name-calling and other counter-productive junk that goes viral. Team USA!

  • Wendy

    I know his Mama is so proud of him. She raised a fabulous young man….

  • Jordan

    Love feel good stories like this!

    However, I nearly fell of my chair when I realised no-one had criticised the lady’s photograph yet in the comments section. Am I on Petapixel or have I stumbled onto another website?

  • eraserhead12

    it’s always nice when good deeds are recognized and appreciated.

    we need more cops like him–all the ones in my area routinely harass and beat up homeless people. and the occasional student/professor/poet laureate.

  • Andrea Hill

    Loved this story. I am sure officer Larry DePrimo never expected anyone to learn about his act of kindness. He just wanted to give this man a pair of shoes. It’s the little things we do for one another that are great examples of our humanity.

  • Tom Tuohy

    Way to be Officer DePrimo. Look at the ripples caused from the small stone you threw into the pond. You do us all and your uniform proud.

  • yudit ilany

    no doubt this officer showed a humane side, but the real question is not being asked here: how can rich american society allow such levels of poverty? where is social justice? what needs to be done to prevent people to have to live out on the streets, no home, no proper clothes etc?

  • Kat

    I think the viral response shows how hungry our world is for a little bit of kindness…

  • Val Gruen

    They made sure this went viral. They need to win back the hearts and minds of the NYCers.