There are good cops, there are bad cops, and then there are cops that remind you what it really means to be a public servant. On Nov. 14, NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo spotted a homeless man wandering around Times Square barefoot, his feet covered in blisters. DePrimo went to a shoe store, purchased a pair of leather boots, and brought them back for the man to wear. "I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let’s put them on and take care of you," he said. Armed with a smartphone camera, Arizona tourist Jennifer Foster captured the moment when DePrimo knelt down next to the man to help him put the shoes on, and the photo has gone viral, with almost 320,000 Facebook "likes" as of Thursday morning. DePrimo told The New York Times that he didn't catch the homeless man's name, but "he was the most polite gentleman I had met." He says he's kept the receipt from his purchase in his pocket to remind him "that sometimes people have it worse."
Update: Shortly after this photo went viral, reports began trickling in that the homeless man in the picture had been seen wandering the New York City streets barefoot once again. According to The New York Times, the man's name is Jeffrey Hillman, and he's stashed away the $100 boots in a safe place. "Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money," he told the newspaper. Hillman expressed gratitude for DePrimo's generosity, but is frustrated that the photo was shared so widely without his permission. "What do I get?" he asked. "This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie."
This story was originally published on Nov. 29 and updated on Dec. 3.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- 10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2014
- The keys to succeeding with a job recruiter
- The next pandemic
- These real-life Rosie the Riveters changed the face of labor
Subscribe to the Week