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NYPD officer personally gives boots, socks to homeless man

Published On: Nov 29 2012 10:38:40 PM CST

WABC's Josh Einiger reports.

Christina Ng, ABC News -

A New York Police Department officer's act of kindness has gone viral online thanks to a photo snapped by a passing tourist.
 
Jennifer Foster of Florence, Ariz., was visiting Times Square with her husband on Nov. 14 when she spotted a shoeless man asking for change. Foster is the manager of the Pinal County Sheriff's public safety communications center.
 
"Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him," Foster wrote in a message to the NYPD. "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."
 
Foster said that the officer did not know she was watching and she took a photo.
 
"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," Foster wrote. "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."
 
The officer has since been identified as Lawrence DePrimo, 25, of Long Island.

DePrimo joined the NYPD in 2010 and lives with his parents. He has been shocked by the attention he has received and did not know about the photo or that it was going to be posted online, DePrimo told the New York Times.

"It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man's feet," DePrimo told the paper. "I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold."
 
DePrimo found out that the man, whose name he does not know, wore a size 12 shoe. He went into a Skechers shoes store and bought the all-weather boots for $75. DePrimo said the man was thrilled with the boots and went on his way.
 
DePrimo told the Times that he has kept the receipt in his vest pocket "to remind me that sometimes people have it worse."
 
When contacted by ABCNews.com, DePrimo said he had to get permission from the NYPD before he could comment on the story.
 
The NYPD posted the Foster's photo and message on their official Facebook page on Tuesday evening and it was picked up by Reddit. Since then, the Facebook photo has been "liked" over 347,000 times and shared over 94,000 times, turning DePrimo into an Internet hero.
 
While some of the thousands of comments on Facebook questioned whether the photo was stages, the comments were predominantly in praise of the officer.
 
One commenter wrote, "My eyes stung from the tears as I read this story - so awesome knowing there is still goodness in the world! May only good things come to this angel of an officer!"
 
"God Bless them both," another person wrote. "We have to take care of each other."