11/30/2012

'Hero' NYPD cop interviewed about famous photo

"It is a humbling experience to have real heroes...shaking my hand"

Editor’s Note: We’re looking for photos like the one below. Any images which capture courage, compassion, comedy, commitment, poignancy — anything that might restore the citizenry’s faith in law enforcement — in hopes we can help PoliceOne Columnist Val Van Brocklin to put together a book with as many such pictures as possible. If you have a photo to submit, please send it to Val via email.

By PoliceOne Staff

NEW YORK — The NYPD officer who became a worldwide hero after a photograph showing him giving shoes to a barefoot man went viral has spoken of his act of kindness.

 “It was freezing. The first thing I thought was, this is absolutely unacceptable, so I went up to him, and said where are your socks or shoes or anything ,” Officer Lawrence Deprimo told MSN Today. 

DePrimo, 25, who was on counter-terrorism duty at the time, is seen in the photo giving shoes and socks to an unidentified man the night of Nov. 14 near Times Square.

The salesman at a nearby shoe store cut Deprimo a deal on waterproof winter boots, saying as a 10-year resident of New York City, he’s never seen anyone “take this sort of initiative.”

Deprimo  said he keeps the receipt in his bullet-proof vest, "mostly because I think it’s an important reminder that people have it worse."

Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Arizona whose father was an officer, said she snapped the photo because she’s seen her father do a similar act, and knew what she was looking at. 

“This man’s face lit up like it was Christmas, and like he was literally given a million dollars,” she said.

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“People are saying their faith in humanity is restored, and that’s the biggest thing I could take away from all this.”

On Thursday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly presented  DePrimo with a special set of cuff links during a ceremony,

DePrimo said he was expecting jokes from fellow officers at the Sixth Precinct station house as news spread of what he did; instead, they congratulated him.

"It is a humbling experience to have real heroes who have been on this job a lot longer than I have shaking my hand," he said.

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