Jennifer Foster, from Arizona, was vacationing in Manhattan when she saw NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo approach a homeless man on the street. While everyone walked passed unphased by what the officer was doing, Foster quickly snapped a photo. The whole scenario brought back a childhood memory of her father, a 32-year police veteran, feeding a homeless man. “He squatted down, just like this officer,” she said. Foster emailed the NYPD describing what she saw to give a “compliment card.” A department official contacted Foster asking for a copy of the photo so it could be posted. The photo is quickly going viral.
Officer DePrimo was walking his beat on the evening of Nov 14 thinking how his feet were cold despite wearing 2 pairs of wool socks and combat boots when he encountered a homeless man. DePrimo noticed the man was shoe less. “It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,” he said in an interview. “I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold.” He spoke with the man for a few minutes then went into a nearby Sketcher shoe store to buy insulated boots and socks. “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 returned to the man with the boots and socks, knelt beside him and helped to put them on. “He smiled from ear to ear,” DePrimo said. “It was like you gave him a million dollars.” After politely declining a cup of coffee the homeless man continued down the sidewalk and Officer DePrimo returned to his post.
In a city whose residents are often characterized as some of the most heartless, a 25-year old saw a man in need on the street where others see a public nuisance. Larry DePrimo has since carried the receipt for the $75 he spent that night on his vest every night to remind him that sometimes people have it worse. There is that old adage derived from a Persian Sufi story which goes something like “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”
Photo credit: Jennifer Foster