November 25, 2023

Thanks to all the cops who make a difference


PERF members,

On a cold night in November 2012, NYPD Officer Lawrence DePrimo came upon a man who was barefoot and appeared to be homeless. Officer DePrimo responded with an act of kindness that went above and beyond his training and policy manual, like officers across the country do every day. The New York Times described what happened:

“The officer, normally assigned to the Sixth Precinct in the West Village, readily recalled the encounter. ‘It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,’ he said in an interview. ‘I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold.’ They started talking; he found out the man’s shoe size: 12.

“As the man walked slowly down Seventh Avenue on his heels, Officer DePrimo went into a Sketchers shoe store at about 9:30 p.m. ‘We were just kind of shocked,’ said Jose Cano, 28, a manager working at the store that night. ‘Most of us are New Yorkers and we just kind of pass by that kind of thing. Especially in this neighborhood.’

“Mr. Cano volunteered to give the officer his employee discount to bring down the regular $100 price of all-weather boots to a little more than $75. The officer has kept the receipt in his vest since then, he said, ‘to remind me that sometimes people have it worse.’”

A tourist who worked in an Arizona sheriff’s office took a photo of Officer DePrimo helping the man put on the boots and emailed it to the NYPD, commending DePrimo’s actions. The NYPD posted the photo on Facebook, and it went viral.

Source: Jennifer Foster via the NYPD Facebook page

I hung this photo in the entrance to PERF’s office to remind us all of how cops can change lives. But countless other good deeds that happen every day in cities and towns across the country don’t receive any public attention. So on Thanksgiving weekend I want to give thanks to all those officers who make a difference:

  • The cop who drops everything to help a panicking parent whose child has run away in a mall.
  • The cop who responds to an active shooter situation prepared to risk their life to save others.
  • The officer who maintains their composure while under the strain of protesters shouting insults.
  • The police chief who comforts the spouse of an officer who has died in the line of duty.
  • The assistant chief who spends days preparing security for a visiting dignitary.
  • The cop who shows compassion and caring towards the victim when responding to a sexual assault call.
  • The cop who helps a person find their car in a parking lot.
  • The cop with the peer support unit who talks another cop out of taking their life.
  • The sergeant who provides steady leadership during a volatile use of force situation.
  • The transit cop who discovers a child who has run away from home and contacts their parents.
  • The cop who provides compassion and support while telling parents that their teenager has died in a car crash.
  • The cop who responds to a call for erratic behavior and recognizes the person is in crisis.
  • The cop who uses naloxone to save a person who is overdosing.
  • The cop who uses their discretion when responding to calls, knowing that enforcing the law is just one of many options.
  • The cop who calls a concerned relative after confirming their loved one is okay on a welfare check.
  • The cop who calls a relative of a homeless person to let the person’s family know they are okay.
  • The cop who partners with local businesses to deliver food to the elderly.
  • The cop who dives into a nearly frozen lake to rescue a driver.
  • The cop who provides first aid to someone they have just arrested.
  • The university cop who updates a parent about their child’s well-being.
  • The cop who stops someone for speeding, finds out they are rushing to the hospital, and provides an escort.
  • The transit cop who carefully removes someone from the train who is frightening fellow passengers.
  • The cop who unexpectedly has to deliver a baby.
  • The cop who buys toys for a family in need at Christmas.
  • The chief who takes the holiday shift of an officer with a young family.

I know this is only a partial list, and you all surely could add to it. PERF is a management organization, but we highly value the work of everyday cops like those described above. Policing is a profession with countless ways to make a difference in people’s lives. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and thanks for what you do.