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Updated Friday, November 30, 2012 at 06:04 AM

Police officer's kindness is an instant hit online

By DEEPTI HAJELA
The Associated Press

NEW YORK — 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 boyfriend Nov. 14, when she came across the shoeless man asking for change in Times Square.

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

DePrimo, 25, speaking Thursday, remembered the night clearly, that even with two pairs of socks on, his feet were freezing.

The homeless man "didn't even have a pair of socks on and I could only imagine how cold that pavement was," DePrimo said, clutching a box containing cufflinks given to him by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Foster's photo was posted Tuesday night to the New York Police Department's official Facebook page and became an instant hit. More than 420,000 users "liked" it as of Thursday evening, and more than 140,000 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.

"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 telling the man.

Foster, a dispatch manager at the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, wrote: "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."

DePrimo said buying the boots "was something I had to do." He tried to persuade the man to get something to eat, but he declined.

"When I brought out the shoes, it was just a smile from ear to ear," he said. "It was a great moment for both of us."

DePrimo said he was surprised when a friend told him the photo was posted on the Internet.

DePrimo said he has been with the department for 2 ½ years.

He is assigned to the Sixth Precinct, encompassing Greenwich Village and the West Village, and lives on Long Island with his parents.


JENNIFER FOSTER / AP
This photo posted online shows New York police Officer Larry DePrimo presenting boots to a barefoot homeless man.




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