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Old 11-29-2012, 06:32 PM   #1
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New York's Finest

Thought I would give this a separate thread outside of feel good stories, mainly because we have had many threads here about some bad things police officers have done.

I saw the officer on the news and he said that the man acted as if he gave him a million dollars. How many people passed by that man with no shoes and just kept on walking? How many people do that every day? It just truly touched me. A simple gesture that anyone with money enough could do, and it just means so much. Only twenty five years old- I hope that officer has a long career ahead of him. To protect and serve, he truly knows what that means.




A photo of a New York City police officer kneeling down to give a barefoot homeless man in Times Square a pair of boots on a cold November night is melting even the iciest New Yorkers' hearts online.

On Nov. 14, NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo, who was on counterterrorism duty in Times Square, saw the older homeless man without shoes sitting on 42nd Street. DePrimo, 25, left and then returned with a pair of $100 boots he bought at a nearby Skechers store.

"It was freezing out, and you could see the blisters on the man's feet," DePrimo, a three-year veteran of the department who lives with his parents on Long Island, told the New York Times. "I had two pairs of socks, and I was still cold."

The random act of kindness was captured by Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Florence, Ariz., who was visiting the city. Foster, communications director for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office in Arizona, emailed the photo to the NYPD with a note commending DePrimo.

"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,'" Foster wrote. "The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man.

"I have been in law enforcement for 17 years," she continued. "I was never so impressed in my life. ... It is important, I think, for all of us to remember the real reason we are in this line of work. The reminder this officer gave to our profession in his presentation of human kindness has not been lost."
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:46 PM   #2
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That's nice but, police still exist to protect the state and private property. No one nice deed is going to make me accept their wrongdoings.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:54 PM   #3
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I do love this story. I heard on the local news radio that his commissioner gave him NYPD cufflinks to reward his kindness.

Most people ignore the homeless in New York because they're usually on drugs, drunk or simply mentally unstable, and also they smell. That's why I'm surprised that this guy - who probably had lived on Long Island for nearly or all his life - would be so genuinely concerned about a homeless man, even if he was barefoot. Clearly, he's unaffected by the cynicism and jadedness many in NYC have.

It makes me wonder what I'd do the next time I see a homeless person.
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:25 PM   #4
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This reminds me of something the last time I was in Las Vegas. We were sitting at a Starbucks on the Strip, where outside our window a small group of I think 4 homeless men were sitting beside a wall. A man pulling a small rolling suit case came up and sat with them. He opened it up and pulled out bagfuls of new packaged socks and other clothing items, toiletries, and various basic needs and passed them out. He sat and talked with them for at least half an hour as well and shared something to eat while he visited with them. We thought that was pretty neat.
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:32 PM   #5
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This reminds me of something the last time I was in Las Vegas. We were sitting at a Starbucks on the Strip, where outside our window a small group of I think 4 homeless men were sitting beside a wall. A man pulling a small rolling suit case came up and sat with them. He opened it up and pulled out bagfuls of new packaged socks and other clothing items, toiletries, and various basic needs and passed them out. He sat and talked with them for at least half an hour as well and shared something to eat while he visited with them. We thought that was pretty neat.
Thanks for posting that, I like it
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:37 PM   #6
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Most people ignore the homeless in New York because they're usually on drugs, drunk or simply mentally unstable, and also they smell

Well I don't think that could be true of all people who find themselves homeless there (who knows what anyone's true story is anyway), and obviously we know why they smell. Over the last few years I've seen people with cardboard signs asking for money even in affluent suburbs, in many places where I'd never seen that kind of thing before. These days anyone can end up homeless.

I think people are cynical and jaded everywhere. All you have to do is read some of the online comments about this story. It's hard not to practically weep for humanity. Oh well, I try to hold on to the positive as much as I can. It does get really tough to do that.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:00 PM   #7
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It's hard not to practically weep for humanity. Oh well, I try to hold on to the positive as much as I can. It does get really tough to do that.
I know how you feel. I'm the exact same way.

Sadly, Pearl is right about why the homeless are always ignored. And that logic strikes me as really backward. We don't like that these people look/act like this, so instead of doing something that might help, y'know, change that, we'll just ignore it only to complain further when their behavior and looks get worse as a result. Okay.

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This reminds me of something the last time I was in Las Vegas. We were sitting at a Starbucks on the Strip, where outside our window a small group of I think 4 homeless men were sitting beside a wall. A man pulling a small rolling suit case came up and sat with them. He opened it up and pulled out bagfuls of new packaged socks and other clothing items, toiletries, and various basic needs and passed them out. He sat and talked with them for at least half an hour as well and shared something to eat while he visited with them. We thought that was pretty neat.
That IS a cool story. Thanks for sharing that .

I like this one about the officer and the boots, too. Yes, there are unfortunately a lot of examples of shitty excuses for police officers out there, no question about that, but I'm not going to hate on the entire profession because of those idiots. They have one of the tougher, more stressful jobs in the world and I can't even begin to imagine what it'd be like to have to deal with some of the hellish stuff they deal with day in and day out. They're not perfect, but I do think many of them genuinely care about people, or at least try to, and this is a good example of that in action.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:09 PM   #8
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it's a nice story

go back in a couple of days, and good chance he will be barefoot again , he will have sold those $100 shoes for $10
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:11 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by MrsSpringsteen View Post
Well I don't think that could be true of all people who find themselves homeless there (who knows what anyone's true story is anyway), and obviously we know why they smell. Over the last few years I've seen people with cardboard signs asking for money even in affluent suburbs, in many places where I'd never seen that kind of thing before. These days anyone can end up homeless.
Yes, I'm aware of that. I was just saying some New Yorkers tend to see homeless people on the streets as just part of the scenery.


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I think people are cynical and jaded everywhere. All you have to do is read some of the online comments about this story. It's hard not to practically weep for humanity. Oh well, I try to hold on to the positive as much as I can. It does get really tough to do that.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:17 PM   #10
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Sadly, Pearl is right about why the homeless are always ignored. And that logic strikes me as really backward. We don't like that these people look/act like this, so instead of doing something that might help, y'know, change that, we'll just ignore it only to complain further when their behavior and looks get worse as a result. Okay.
I think one reason why some ignore the homeless is because some can really strung out on whatever or be really out of it. Growing up here, my friends and I have always been told to avoid the homeless and do not help them or feel sorry for them because they might be dangerous. And then you see it happen with your own eyes. So those two combinations can turn people off from doing anything for the homeless.

I remember in school as a kid, one girl said she would rather help out in a soup kitchen than give money to a someone on the streets because they might use it for booze or drugs. I agree with that.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:18 PM   #11
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. Over the last few years I've seen people with cardboard signs asking for money even in affluent suburbs, in many places where I'd never seen that kind of thing before. These days anyone can end up homeless.

Guarantee they're not all actually homeless.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:27 PM   #12
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Most people ignore the homeless in New York because they're usually on drugs, drunk or simply mentally unstable, and also they smell.
they smell?

no, you smell
they stink




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Old 11-29-2012, 08:39 PM   #13
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Guarantee they're not all actually homeless.
I realize that. But if they were all scammers they would have been doing that in affluent suburbs long before now. I've given people small amounts of money a few times, I figure they still probably need it more than I do even if they've scammed me. And I'd actually rather get scammed by them than by some wealthy person in fancy clothes. There are all kinds of scammers in this world, some are just in better packaging. All kinds of ways in which to scam people too.

Still doesn't change the fact that anyone could be homeless. I think that's why we keep certain us vs them attitudes, because that's not something that we want to face.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:51 PM   #14
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I think one reason why some ignore the homeless is because some can really strung out on whatever or be really out of it. Growing up here, my friends and I have always been told to avoid the homeless and do not help them or feel sorry for them because they might be dangerous. And then you see it happen with your own eyes. So those two combinations can turn people off from doing anything for the homeless.

I remember in school as a kid, one girl said she would rather help out in a soup kitchen than give money to a someone on the streets because they might use it for booze or drugs. I agree with that.
Fair point with the first part. Definitely get the "scary situation" thing. I guess in that case then I'd see if I could call somebody who might be better equipped to help the person or something, if for no other reason than at least they'd be kept in a safe place instead of out in public posing a danger to people, if that was a concern of mine. But then again I also know that a lot of places that are supposed to help with things like that struggle with staying open and taking people in and that sort of stuff, too.

And as for the second part, I get that, too, and that makes sense, but at the same time...I dunno. They might, they might not. I still would just feel bad at the idea of simply leaving them there with nothing.

The bottom line is that individual acts of charity are welcome and wonderful, but the homeless also clearly need actual, proper structural help on a big level-a decent place to stay, proper mental/physical healthcare, etc. But even though most people would probably agree with that idea in theory, many of them also aren't willing to do more to help make that a reality. And that's sad.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:11 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Moonlit_Angel View Post

The bottom line is that individual acts of charity are welcome and wonderful, but the homeless also clearly need actual, proper structural help on a big level-a decent place to stay, proper mental/physical healthcare, etc. But even though most people would probably agree with that idea in theory, many of them also aren't willing to do more to help make that a reality. And that's sad.
I think it takes an enormous amount of patience to deal with homeless people, especially the ones who aren't mentally stable. You would have to be fearless and have an incredible amount of compassion for them. Not everyone has that, and there's some sort of a stigma in taking care of a homeless person, so that's another reason in not too many trying to help them.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:40 PM   #16
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There is a very high rate of mental illness in the homeless population. I would venture a guess that more than 75% of the homeless suffer from mental illness and a good number of them are also addicts to various substances. If we had better systemic means of dealing with mental illness, if it were not still a very stigmatized thing, the homeless population would go down immediately. Not entirely, but a very large proportion of the people would be off the street had they been receiving the proper care and treatment all along. Of course nothing is that easy in life and it is really hard to control for compliance while allowing for personal choice.

I lived in NYC for a period of time and it was a very fortunate time in my life in the sense that I was making a lot of $, living in a pretty sweet (though tiny place) for $3600/month in midtown which was fully paid for by my employer, along with travel expenses, etc. I must have been one of the very few people who went to NYC on a contract and ended up making a boatload of $. Before I left I'd been volunteering at a soup kitchen every week and so on the one hand I really missed that experience and on the other I did feel that I was very lucky in life so I made it a point to, as often as I was able, give to the homeless men on the walk between my office and work. Most of the time I would buy 2 lunches and give one away. Mostly it was received well, other times they didn't care for the food and I'd have to try the next guy. Sometimes it was a bagel breakfast in the morning. When I was lazy or discouraged by them refusing the food, I'd give cash. Don't want to make myself sound like anything special - it was always small amounts of money, I'd say somewhere in the neighbourhood of $3-5 per. I found that most of them were very talkative. One guy told me that he had looked into my eyes and he knew that I had found Jesus, which was pretty funny given my agnostic views. I was surprised by how many of them were veterans (overwhelmingly Vietnam), and found that to be terribly sad but in retrospect not altogether shocking. Overwhelmingly male, I would say more than 50% were African American but I am not sure if that holds true in NYC generally or if that was the experience I had given where I lived and the path I took to work.

Homelessness is something that I always found incredibly difficult to accept. We who live in the West live in countries far too wealthy to allow for this. But it is a huge systemic problem and when you start talking to these people you really begin to understand that their path to homelessness began very early on in their lives. And for the subset with mental illness, it is a struggle for me personally because I had a relative who was in that position for many years and also as a lawyer who struggles with the law on the matter. I co-authored a paper as I was graduating from law school, with my law school mentor and with a professor of psychiatry, which criticized Ontario's mental health system, which in my view is overly permissive and puts too much emphasis on patient's rights, to their detriment (one of my pride and joy papers as it was published in a really well known journal!). We are talking about extremely mentally ill people in this context, not your average depressed person. Anyway, took a lot of deep thought and soul searching to come to my position. The law is not a vehicle for fixing social problems, but in this case I think that it can be used as a tool to help people who are in truly dire straits.

Now I've rambled too long.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:51 PM   #17
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Fantastic post, anitram. I don't have much to say in response, but your experiences made me think, which is generally a good thing.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:55 PM   #18
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You didn't ramble at all, anitram. I think a lot of what you said made plenty of sense, and I agree the stigma surrounding mental illness needs to be banished from society. I heard a lot of the homeless suffer from schizophrenia and that's a genetic/biological problem, so its not at all their fault.

Reading this thread is making me think twice about passing a homeless person without giving them much thought. Although I'll always be wary because you don't know what they may do to you, I'll see what I can do. Maybe I should start in soup kitchens.

And I agree that it is very sad that some homeless are Vietnam vets. If mental illness developed from the war drove them to the streets, we can expect many Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans doing the same, which should be prevented.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:07 PM   #19
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It was nice to see an act of kindness. I didn't see it as a kindness from a policeman, but a kindness from a person who happened to be a policeman. (I guess it makes good PR, but that's another discussion)

All these cynical comments here....makes it so much easier to turn away without a twinge. I turn away a lot. I look the other way. Maybe most of the time. I can't always be bothered. But I don't try to find a loophole. The longer I live, the more I see that the evil twins of those who do harm are those who do nothing. We are increasingly indifferent.

I'm not romanticizing the homeless. I think many are scammers. Many are addicts, some criminals, dangerous. And I don't think anyone should put themselves in danger. But I don't know who's scamming. I've seen a lot more people recently afraid of losing their homes because they have lost jobs or have humongous medical bills. These are people who've worked hard all their lives, played by all the rules.

And as Anitram pointed out, so many of the homeless are veterans. People the country broke and didn't want to bother fixing so they just tossed them aside like so much garbage.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:16 PM   #20
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anitram, that was a perfect post. You pretty much articulated everything I was trying to say earlier much better.

Agreed on the veterans thing, too. That particularly bothers me, because for all the "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!" rallying cries I heard people chanting all over the place, we sure still don't seem to give much of a shit about them when they actually come home. We're not spitting on them and calling them "baby killers" anymore, but a step up this is obviously not.
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