Gainesville's viral 'hot cops' promise a calendar to benefit Hurricane Irma victims

Gainesville Police Department

There's no telling when a photo might go viral, but a selfie of three Gainesville Police officers preparing to help clean up after Hurricane Irma seems as good as any, especially if it will benefit victims.

Officers John Nordman, Michael Hamill and Dan Rengering shot what seemed a harmless selfie Sunday before starting the night shift hours after Irma stormed through Gainesville. They did it at the request of Officer Ben Tobias, the department spokesman who wanted to highlight the officers doing good works.

Little did anyone know the photo would have more than 226,000 shares and more than 146,000 comments - many of them hilarious and/or crude - on Facebook as of Wednesday.

The photo soon spread across the world as reporters from celebrity magazines like People, staid institutions like The Washington Post and viral blogs like Buzzfeed, picked up the story.

Officers Hamill and Rengering definitely didn't expect the reaction. "We didn't know there was going to be this kind of response," Hamill said. "My wife, at first she was not about it, she didn't like all of the attention ... now she's come around to it. She realized there's nothing she can do about it."

"Honestly I had to turn my phone off last night," said Rengering, the "one with the amazing hair" and the only single officer among them. "It's been excessive."

Even the police department, which has a history of going viral with Basketball Cop and its more recent condemnation of Donald Trump's statements on police brutality, was surprised with how quickly and widely the photo spread. But the social savvy department was quick to join in on the fun by thanking fans for the funny comments "You've actually made our chief blush with some of them" and cracking some jokes of its own: "Officer Rengering is being placed into Cougar Prey Protective Care, similar to the witness protection program for his safety" and "Please do not call 9-1-1 and request this group to respond to your "incident."

More significantly, the department promised to quickly get a calendar together to benefit hurricane victims. Details are still fuzzy at this point.

Rengering said he's excited that all of the attention could benefit people who suffered from the storm.

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