Editor's Note, added September 16, 2017: Since the original publication of this story on Sept. 13, the Gainesville Police Department has confirmed that it is investigating reports of anti-Semitic comments made on social media by one of the officers in the photo, Officer Michael Hamill. The original photo has been deleted by the Gainesville Police Department, which has suspended Officer Hamill without pay while the department investigates.
The original story remains on this page as a reminder of a simpler time when the internet united to celebrate the attractiveness of several police officers.
Some officers of Florida's Gainesville Police Department may soon need a little protection of their own. A picture of three officers preparing for duty during Hurricane Irma on Sept. 10 recently went viral, drawing comments that even made the police chief blush.
The selfie of officers John Nordman, Michael Hamill and Dan Rengering — "part of the night crew getting ready to do some work" — has amassed nearly 248,000 shares and some 444,000 reactions on Facebook since it was posted Sunday. But it is the comments in response to the post that have set the internet on fire.
"The hunkapotumus is a rare, elusive, and mythical creature. Here we are lucky to see three huddled together in the wake of Hurricane Irma?" commented one individual. "I'm a well trained hunkapotumus handler. Send them my way and they will be well taken care of."
Another person started off defending the police officers from those who might value them based on their looks and not their ability to defend the citizenry of Gainesville. "I can't believe how many women are objectifying these poor, fine, young, strong, handsome, brave, sexy, delicious, virile, ovulation-inducing, mouth-watering, beefy... I can't remember where I was going with this," reads the comment.
The overwhelming response prompted the department to post an update: "We are dying with the comments. You've actually made our chief blush with some of them," wrote Officer Ben Tobias, the department’s public information officer and social media manager. "MRS. Nordman and MRS. Hamill have also enjoyed knowing how millions of women are going crazy over their husbands... We can confirm that Officer Rengering (far right with the amazing hair) IS SINGLE. Please do not call 9-1-1 and request this group respond to your 'incident.' There WILL be a calendar."
Tobias told TODAY he meant it when he promised a calendar of the officers. "All proceeds will go to Hurricane Irma relief," he said.
Since the incident, other Florida police departments have posted photos of their own officers, offering them as "backup."
The response has been overwhelmingly fantastic," said Tobias. "Everyone in Florida, including the cops, were extremely nervous about Irma," he said. "Cops have to leave their homes and families behind to ensure the safety and security of the public, adding to our anxiety. I’m so glad that photos of our folks (were) able to lift the spirits of everyone affected by this storm."
As for the three newly famous officers, they're reporting back to work tonight for the first time since they became viral sensations. "They have been humbled and flattered by the attention," said Tobias. "We’ll have to see how our new celebrities are treated tonight!"
Still, he stressed that the Gainesville police officers are not just pretty faces, and relief efforts in the area are going well in the wake of the hurricane because of their hard work. "The City of Gainesville’s emergency management is second to none," he said.
"In the immediate aftermath of Irma, we formed 'strike teams' that included two officers, a fire truck, utility crews and public works crews. These teams were dispatched to critical infrastructure areas and began clearing the immediate hazards.
"The rest of the cleanup will take some time, but there were thankfully no major injuries as a result." We're guessing he's not counting the broken hearts the officers may leave in their own wake.