Good Cop, Bad Cop: Buy 'Em Boots, Move 'Em On

by
Abby Zimet

So this happened: Larry DePrimo, a young NYPD cop, saw a barefoot homeless guy on a cold night in Times Square. He felt bad. He went and bought a pair of warm boots and socks, paid for out of his pocket, and gave them to the man, saying, "Let's put them on and take care of you." A passing tourist from Arizona saw the seemingly random act of kindness, admired it, took a picture with her cell phone, and sent it to the NYPD, who posted it on their Facebook page. It has now garnered over 80,000 shares, 325,000 likes, and much good press for the NYPD, which can use it. Just to be clear: DePrimo seems to be a genuinely good guy who did a genuinely kind thing; explaining it, he told the hordes of gawking reporters, "I felt it was what I had to do." Then again, one swell guy does not a swell police department make. Some cynics have questioned the fate of those lovely boots, some observers have noted the ongoing invisibility of the man in question, and, perhaps most importantly, many advocates for the homeless have pointed out that DePrimo's kindness is more the exception than the rule for a department routinely blasted for harassing, brutalizing and criminalizing the city's homeless. So this did happen. And more needs to.

The police "shouldn't just be good to just one of us. They need to be good to us all." - Vernon, a homeless man.

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