Police officer’s kindness to one reaches millions more

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, November 29, 2012

If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. ~Bob Hope

In an act of kindness, New York Police officer Lawrence DePrimo giving boots to a shoeless, homeless man who was asking for change in Times Square.

Even Ebenezer Scrooges and Grinches tend to get a little warm and gooey on the inside during the holiday season.

Maybe it’s the cup of hot cocoa. Maybe it’s the sparkling holiday lights or homecoming hugs. Or, perhaps it’s because reminders of how good people can be to each other seem to circulate the most at this time of year.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In my twitterfeed Thursday was a prime example of an act of kindness that can warm the iciest heart. It was a photo of New York Police officer Lawrence DePrimo giving boots to a shoeless, homeless man who was asking for change in Times Square.

A tourist from Arizona was about to approach the homeless man when the officer knelt beside him with the boots and thermal socks. She stopped to record his generosity with her cell phone camera.

The woman contacted NYPD and recounted the conversation she overheard.

She reported DePrimo said, “I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let’s put them on and take care of you.”

The woman said she had worked in law enforcement for 17 years elsewhere and decided to share the photo with the NYPD, noting that she had never been more impressed.

DePrimo was on a counterterrorism duty in Times Square on Nov. 14 when he noticed the man.

“It was freezing out, and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,” DePrimo, a three-year veteran of NYPD who lives with his parents on Long Island, told the New York Times. “I had two pairs of socks, and I was still cold.”

With his own money, DePrimo purchased a pair of $100 boots at a nearby store. An employee reportedly also contributed to the act of kindness by using his employee discount to bring the total down to $75.

As quoted in web articles, the employee said of DePrimo, “He was the most polite gentleman I had met.”

Since the photo was posted on the NYPD’s Facebook page, it has garnered more than 350,000 likes, more than 85,000 shares, and has been viewed almost 2 million times.

If you haven’t seen the photo, I’ll post it in the online version of this column at troymessenger.com.

Officer DePrimo noticed another person in need and went above his normal duties to provide comfort and compassion. I’ll be keeping his kind actions with me this holiday season and hopefully much longer.