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Thousands touched by photograph of New York cop helping shoeless man

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A photograph of a New York City police officer crouching by a shoeless panhandler to give him a new pair of boots on a cold night in Times Square has drawn a deluge of praise after it was published on the police department's Facebook page this week.

By Thursday afternoon, nearly 394,000 people had clicked a button on the department's Facebook page to indicate that they "liked" the photograph. Tens of thousands left comments, most praising Officer Lawrence DePrimo for his charitable deed.

The photograph was snapped by Jennifer Foster, an employee of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office in Florence, Arizona, during a trip to New York this month, according to police.

She took the picture shortly after she noticed the man asking passersby for money.

"Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him," Foster wrote in an email to the New York Police Department accompanying the snapshot, according to the picture caption on the department's Facebook page. She said she was some distance away, and the officer did not know he was being photographed.

"The officer said, ‘I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. 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."

DePrimo and Foster could not be reached for comment on Thursday, and the police department did not respond to queries about the photograph.

DePrimo, 25, joined the force in 2010 and lives with his parents on Long Island, according to The New York Times. He paid $75 for the boots from a nearby Skechers store after an employee there gave him a 25 percent discount upon learning they were to be donated to a man in need.

"I wish more cops were like this guy," one person wrote on the department's Facebook page. Others suggested there were plenty of good-hearted police officers about, even if their good deeds were not photographed or touted on Facebook.

(Editing by Paul Thomasch and Stacey Joyce)

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