Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Officer DePrimo Should be Invited to the White House

December 4, 2012 11:11 am 1 comment

New York City police officer Lawrence DePrimo gives a pair of boots to a homeless man.

Every now and then, there is a story which actually happened and could only happen in New York City. On November 14, 2012, a very cold night, while New York City police officer Lawrence DePrimo was on patrol in Times Square, he came across a homeless man who was barefoot sitting on the ground. The officer went into a nearby shoe store, bought a pair of socks and a pair of boots for the homeless man and helped the man put them on his highly infected feet. The scene was witnessed by a tourist who took a picture with his cellphone and posted the picture on the web to be seen by myriads of people.

Officer DePrimo later called his mother to tell her what he had done. He paid $75 from of his own pocket to buy the $100 boots (the store manager was aware of whom the boots were for and gave the officer an employee discount of $25).

The story was covered by all of the media and Officer DePrimo was congratulated by the Mayor and the Police Commissioner. On December 2nd, a Sunday night, the homeless man, Jeffrey Hillman, who had come to New York City about ten years ago and had been living on its streets for most of the time, reappeared on the Upper West Side, sans boots or footwear. A New York Times article by Marc Santora and Alex Vadukul reported Mr. Hillman said, “Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money…I could lose my life.” What actually happened to the boots in no way detracts from Officer DePrimo’s magnificent generosity and yes, his love for a fellow human being.

Irrespective of all else, I thought it would be wonderful if President Obama invited Officer DePrimo to the White House and had him stay over in the Lincoln Bedroom. I suggest his mom be invited as well, along with a “significant other,” if there is one.

When I was Mayor, we had a huge problem of homeless individuals, men and women. Many of the women had developed the shopping bag syndrome and constantly carried bags of detritus having no use at all. They would not come into the shelters that we provided out of fear. I arranged to have many of the churches and synagogues offer their buildings for use by these women with the City paying them for the costs of energy and providing the beds and blankets with the religious institutions providing the volunteers to care for them through the night.

The problem of taking care of these people who were beset with problems of alcohol and drug addiction and even more difficult mental illness was difficult to say the least. I recall one night at 1:00 a.m., being awakened at Gracie Mansion by a call from a reporter who said he was down at Grand Central talking with an elderly woman who was lying on the floor and he thought I was the only one – as Mayor – who could get her to come to one of our facilities. He asked would I “please come down to Grand Central?”

Of course, I did, driving down at that hour with one of my security detectives. There she was, lying at the door on the ground. As I walked over, I said, “I’m Mayor Koch, and I’d like to help you and take you to one of our homes for a good night’s rest and dinner.” She said, “I know who you are and you can’t make me go.” I replied, “Of course not.” It had to be a voluntary decision on her part. By that time, Jack Krauskopf of the Human Resources Administration had arrived. About a half-hour later, around 2:30 a.m., he said, “go home, Mayor. I’ll take care of it.” I spoke with him the next morning and asked what happened. He said “She wouldn’t go with me, so I called a psychiatrist who lived in Great Neck. He came in, looked at her, asked her some questions, and then wrote a note which he handed to me. The note said she is not capable of making intelligent decisions which meant we could take her against her will.” I didn’t ask him how much the psychiatrist’s fee was.

Dealing with homeless people with their myriad of personal problems has always been a difficult problem for any city. I believe we probably do it better than many other cities. It is very costly; the programs run into the millions of dollars, but they are absolutely necessary if a city is meeting its obligations to those most in need and at risk.

Jeffrey Hillman obviously needs more than a pair of boots to get him back on his feet. The Times article mentioned that he has two children “Nikita, 22 and Jeffrey, 24, but has had little contact with them since a visit three years ago.” Let’s hope those two children will now come forward and help. I also remember what my mother said to me when I was an adolescent, “How is it that one mother can take care of seven children, and seven children can’t take care of one mother?” Let’s hope two can take care of one father. Apparently, he is an army veteran, of which war I do not know, adding to the tragedy.

1 Comment

  • Candace Laughlin

    Officer DePrimo is One of The Best of Us; a dying breed
    if ever there was one.

    We all know it, and that’s why this is viral. We are starved for heroes. The shoeless man’s authenticity, or later-discovered lack of it,
    changes nothing.
    The young cop’s quietly humble body language- wanting to help without embarrassing the man- was/is what did it.

    We can see for ourselves that he is a Good Man, our
    Officer DePrimo. He has not opted out of doing the right thing despite the world around him.

    Here’s to a long and happy life for him.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection. “One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted. “Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    The manager of Scotland’s Celtic soccer club lauded Israel, after his team won a match against the Jewish state’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers said at a post-match press conference: On behalf of the players, the people of Celtic and Scotland, Israel’s been fantastic for us. We came out here on Sunday, [and from] the hotel, the staff, we’ve been very, very warmly received. The atmosphere at the game was amazing and, obviously, one team has to lose, but you have a wonderful team here, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →