The officers from the Strategic Response Group were at the Whole Foods in Union Square around 1 p.m. on Thursday when the incident occurred.
Although Whole Foods security called police, the officers were already in the store buying lunch.
They found the woman being held by security with food in her bag she did not pay for. That's when they decided to pay for her food instead of arresting her.
The man who took the photo and posted it online said it was a moving moment to witness.
"It was a nice moment for, you know, people, it was compassionate and the woman obviously was really grateful," Paul Bozymowski said.
Chief of Department Terence Monahan highlighted the officers' good deed after Bozymowski posted the kind moment on social media.
Cops like Lt. Sojo and Officers Cuevas and Rivera of the Strategic Response Group are the kind-hearted cops who quietly do good deeds for New Yorkers in need. My thanks to @pboz for highlighting the often unnoticed. https://t.co/gbsjkx3iVE— Chief Terence Monahan (@NYPDChiefofDept) July 4, 2019