Officer, New York City Police Department
In November 2012, a tourist in Times Square saw a shoeless man asking for change. She later wrote: "Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him. 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. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching."
Lawrence DePrimo became internationally known for his generosity. His image was widely circulated on social media and the story was later covered by major news outlets. According to The New York Times, emblematic of the leadership and service of Blessed Edmund Rice, the 25-year-old officer has kept the receipt for the boot in his pocket since to remind him "that sometimes people have it worse." Officer DePrimo, who joined the department in 2010 and lives with his parents on Long Island, was shocked at the attention. He was not warned before the photo went online; the department had not learned which officer was in the picture until hours later. "It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man's feet," DePrimo said in an interview. "I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold."
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly '08H gave DePrimo a pair of cufflinks in recognition of his good deed, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted that the officer's story is an "an important reminder to give back this holiday season." DePrimo was also honored by the Long Island towns of Holbrook and Islip, though perhaps his most treasured commendation came from his fellow police officers. "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.
The overwhelming reaction to the story means more than just personal recognition, DePrimo said. "People are saying their faith in humanity is restored and that's the biggest thing I can take away from all of this." The power of kindness of one person permeated society.
For selflessly helping another person in need and becoming an international symbol of kindness and service; for giving of his own modest means without thought of reward or attention; and for promoting kindness and humility in his many opportunities to share with worldwide audiences, Iona College hereby confers on LAWRENCE DePRIMO the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.