Jennifer Foster via NYPD Facebook
NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo gives boots to a homeless man. Jennifer Foster of Arizona, who was visiting Times Square on Nov. 14, snapped the photo.
by Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY
A photo of a New York City police officer giving new boots to a barefoot homeless man in Times Square has created an online sensation.
The NYPD posted the photo of officer Lawrence DePrimo kneeling to help the man put on the boots to the department's Facebook page. By Thursday morning, the photo had been shared more than 82,000 times and "liked" more than 329,000 times.
Jennifer Foster of Florence, Ariz., says she was visiting Times Square with her husband on Nov. 14 when they saw a shoeless man asking for change. As she approached the man, she said a police officer came onto the scene. Foster took a photo and forwarded it and a note to the NYPD.
"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."
Officer DePrimo, 25, who joined the department in 2010, was shocked at the attention, The New York Times reports.
"It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man's feet," DePrimo said in an interview. "I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold." They started talking; he found out the man's shoe size: 12, the Times reports.
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."
DePrimo told the Times that he keeps the receipt for the boots in his vest to remind him ''that sometimes people have it worse.''