The heartwarming image was taken in Times Square at around 9:30 p.m. and shows a barefoot man sitting on the street as a police officer, identified as Larry DePrimo, crouches over him to give him a new pair of boots. "I didn't think anything of it,” said DePrimo in a quote on the NYPD Facebook page.
Tourist Jennifer Foster of Florence, Ariz., who photographed the now-famous act of kindness, was visiting Times Square with her husband on Nov. 14 when she saw DePrimo and the man in need. She claims that she was approaching the homeless man as the police officer showed up with the footwear.
"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,” said Foster in a note attached to the image she posted on the NYPD Facebook page. '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."
The image posted on Tuesday has gained more than 365,000 likes and has been shared more than 106,000 times.
"It was freezing out, and you could see the blisters on the man's feet," DePrimo said in an interview with the New York Times. "I had two pairs of socks, and I was still cold."
DePrimo, 25, who resides on Long Island and usually covers the Sixth Precinct in the West Village, has been a part of the police department since 2010. The Times notes that the officer was unaware that the picture was posted online, and the NYPD didn’t know who the officer was until hours later.
“We were just kind of shocked,” said Jose Cano, 28, a manager of the Sketchers store where the police officer bought the boots that night. “Most of us are New Yorkers, and we just kind of pass by that kind of thing, especially in this neighborhood.”
The all-weather boots were originally priced at $100, but Cano offered to let the officer use his employee discount. DePrimo paid a little over $75 for the homeless man to keep his feet warm, according to the Times.