I sat down with Daniel Rengering, Gainesville's very own #HotCop, to talk about everything from Hurricane Irma, to addressing allegations regarding fellow Hot Cop Michael Hamill. In case you've been living under a rock for the past month, Officers Rengering, Hamill, and John Nordman snapped a selfie, in the midst of Hurricane Irma cleanup that quickly garnered more than 600,000 reactions, 440,000 shares, and 265,000 comments. The comments were overwhelmingly positive, coming mainly from throngs of horny women (and men) making even the Gainesville Police Chief blush. One woman wrote that she would like to “turn herself in for the thoughts running through her head.” Another commented: “How long does it take to get from NW Arkansas to Gainesville, Florida? Asking for a friend.” “The hunkapotumus is a rare, elusive, and mythical creature,” another wrote on Facebook. “Here we are lucky to see 3 huddled together in the wake of Hurricane Irma. I'm a well-trained hunkapotumus handler. Send them my way and they will be well taken care of.”
The department even had to put out a statement after the photo went viral urging people not to call 911 in order to get these hot officers to respond to their homes. The Gainesville PD has also pledged to create a #HotCops Calendar, with the proceeds going to charity, inciting screams of excitement from tens of thousands of crazed fans, all over the world.
PopWrapped: Daniel! Thanks for sitting down with us today. It's been 4 weeks, since the #HotCop photo went viral. What was your immediate reaction to all of the attention? Has it changed your life at all?
Daniel Rengering: I really don't know, to be honest. I think it was a mix of flattery, confusion, and a little panic. *LAUGHS* It was really crazy to have all of these people reaching out. Ellen Degeneres, Time Magazine, People Magazine, FOX News, CNN... The night it went viral, my phone vibrated off of my nightstand. I had to turn it totally off. It wouldn't even make a call. My personal Facebook page had 5,000 friend requests in 3 hours, and I started getting tons of MySpace friend requests in my email, for the first time in like... a decade? I totally forgot I even had a MySpace page.
PW: I want to address the huge pink elephant in the room. Not all the press was positive, after it came out that one of the other officers in the viral photo, Michael Hamill was allegedly involved in making anti-Semitic comments on Facebook. Did that also affect you in a negative way? How do you feel about those types of comments being made by one of your colleagues?
DR: Look, bluntly, those kinds of comments, in jest or otherwise, are totally unacceptable. I am not in any way racist, anti-Semitic, or homophobic, and as a cop, I make a conscious effort to keep myself in check at all times. We deal with the best of people, and also the worst of people. Cops have bad days, and really bad days, just like anyone else. As public servants, we have a duty to check and double check, and triple check the things that come out of our mouths, especially on social media. It's unfortunate that that after many years, those comments came back to bite him in the ass, but it's a good reminder to all of us that the internet is forever. I do think it's worth noting that young people should have a chance to grow and to mature. We've all done or said things when we were kids that we regret as adults. Hamill was never anything but a gentleman when we were working together, and as far as I know, he was a good cop. I can't speak about things he's said or done in the past, other than to say that those are not my views. I genuinely hope his views have changed in the years since those posts were written. I think the most frustrating thing about all of that coming out, was it took away some of the positive things that came from the photo going viral in the first place. It can be really discouraging to see so much negative press directed at police as a whole. The vast majority of us are really doing this for the right reasons. To Protect and Serve isn't just something we just say. Every day I go to work, I do my best to bring a sense of pride to my department. I work with guys (and a whole lot of amazing ladies) at the Gainesville Police Department that are working just as hard as I am, with integrity and the same sense of community. I would like to see the narrative change toward police in this country, and will do my best to be a positive part of that change.
PW: We've seen countless petitions demanding that you be featured on shows like Love Island, Survivor, Big Brother, and even Dancing With the Stars. The petition demanding you be featured on Survivor has over 65,000 signatures on it. Have any of these shows or networks reached out to you?
DR: *Laughs* I have seen some of them, and I just have to laugh. I don't stand a chance on Dancing With The Stars. I'm almost six-foot-five. That just doesn't lend itself to being a great dancer. ...but I can trip and fall with the best of 'em. As for the others, I can't comment.
PW: Hmmm... Pleading the 5th. There's more to that story, but for now, I'm going to let you off the hook. Do you think, if you did go on one of those shows, that you would do well?
DR: I would like to think so! I'm a competitive guy, and I'd like to think that I'm smarter than the average idiot. *laughs* I think that the fact I am physically fit, would help, and my SWAT training couldn't hurt. I guess we'll just have to see, if and when the time is right.
PW: Over the past 5 years or so, you've really transformed your body, lost a lot of weight, and gotten very fit. What was that journey like for you, and how has that changed your life?
DR: It was really hard. I had to totally change my mindset, and lifestyle. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. I like to eat. I like to eat a lot. It's a matter of understanding that for the first few years, you don't get to “cheat” much. It's about forcing a complete mindset change, and being okay not getting to do what you want for a while. Once you get to a good place, you can cheat a little more, knowing that you'll pay for it later in the gym, or on a longer run. It really did change my life. It changed the way people looked at me, but more than anything, changed the way I look at myself. I would never been able to join the SWAT team the way I was before. It was so worth it. I definitely have more confidence now, and I feel so much better, physically.
One of the comments on the original viral selfie was Daniel "could even make ironing look sexy." I decided to find out for myself, and asked Officer Rengering to help me put this to the test. I had Rengering send me a few photos of him ironing. I can confidently say that the original commenter was correct. I give it a 9 out of 10 for sexy, but I have definitely seen much better ironing. You can judge for yourself, below: (There are four images, so don't forget to scroll!)
Ironing with Hot Cop Daniel Rengering
PW: You've done a lot of charity work since all this began. Have you taken any time for yourself, or given yourself time to let everything soak in?
DR: Not really, to be honest. I am hoping to do that soon, but so many people have reached out to me in the past few weeks. I want to try and help everyone that reaches out, but I think I'm starting to realize that as much as I'd like to be Superman, I'm just a normal human like everyone else. Between work, and home responsibilities, and all the other stuff, I feel like I'm starting to look a little ragged.
PW: You look fine to me. *laughs* I do want to let the cat out of the bag a little, so to speak. You have two young daughters, which I don't think most people know. Do they know they have a famous hunkapotamous daddy now, or is it business-as-usual, at home?
DR: I can't get anything past you, can I? I do have two amazing little girls. They are 5 and 6. They are my everything. They're young, so I have quite a few years left of being their hero, before they discover boys. *shudders* I definitely have my work cut out for me, but there's nothing more important in my life. Thankfully, it's mostly business-as-usual at home, for sure. Bedtimes, macaroni and cheese, and tantrums. Nothing's changed there. I think I like it that way. My family and ex-wife have been extremely supportive of all of this, and our family is very close.
PW: So, you're single...?
DR: I am very single.
PW: *Nods VERY, VERY Slowly*
DR: *Laughing Hysterically*
20-Questions with Daniel Rengering
PW: Okay! *Clears Throat* Let's play 20-Questions. No explanations allowed. Answers only. Deal?
DR: Deal, but that counts as your first question. You only get 19 now. *laughs*
PW: Favorite movie?
PW: Favorite Superhero?
PW: Dream Vacation Destination?
DR: Greenbay, WI, for a snowy-day Packers game.
PW: Boxers or Briefs?
DR: Boxer Briefs. *RAISES EYEBROW*
PW: *Rapidly jotting down notes* Coke or Pepsi?
DR: Mountain Dew
PW: Steak or Chicken?
DR: Steak. Medium Rare, Sweet Potato, Broccoli... Oh, that wasn't the question.
PW: Favorite holiday?
PW: Do you have any animals?
DR: A dog. A miniature Pincher.
PW: What was the best Christmas gift you ever received?
DR: Definitely a Turboman Doll.
PW: Do you have any siblings?
DR: Yep. 6.
PW: If we looked in your top nightstand drawer, would you be embarrassed?
DR: Not at all. You might be, though. *winks*
PW: Favorite food?
DR: Pizza. Definitely Pizza.
PW: Do you skip “leg day?”
DR: *hangs head* Sometimes, yeah...
PW: Musical guilty pleasure?
PW: Favorite family tradition?
DR: Granny's house on Christmas Eve, to open presents.
PW: Dream car?
DR: Definitely an older muscle car. I'll take any of them.
PW: "Muscle" Car. ...of course. Fun fact about Daniel Rengering?
DR: I hate sleeping alone.
PW: Where do you see yourself in five-years?
DR: I don't even know how to answer that. I'm happy when I know what I'll be doing in five-minutes. I hope, whatever it is, that I'll be happy, healthy, and surrounded by people who love me.
PW: Where are you taking me, for our first date?
DR: We just had our first date, and it looks like you're all out of questions. Sorry about that. *laughing*
PW: Nicely played, Officer.
Thanks to Hot Cop, Daniel Rengering, for taking the time to hang out and chat with me. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you have more questions for Officer Rengering, be sure to leave them in the comments on our Facebook, and Instagram, and next time, he won't be let off so easy. Interview, Part 2, coming soon! ...and unlike the Gainesville PD page, we don't care if you keep your comments PG. Let 'em rip, ladies (and gents)!