A photograph of a Florida police officer that went viral during Hurricane Irma because of the officer's good looks is now going viral for another reason: allegations of anti-Semitism. Gainesville Police Officer Michael Hamill is reportedly under investigation following allegations he shared jokes about Jews and recommended dealing with "stupid" people "the Hitler way" in a series of Facebook posts obtained by The Gainesville Sun. Hamill has not responded publicly to the allegations and the Gainesville PD has said that they are "reviewing" them.
"Several citizens have brought information to our attention regarding a complaint against Officer Hamill," the police department said in a statement posted to their official website, adding that Hamill has been suspended with pay. "[Gainesville Police Department] is reviewing the allegation and will do so in accordance to Florida law and department policy." According to the department's statement, complaint information is confidential until an investigation has been properly concluded.
It's unclear what, if any, penalties or punishment Officer Hamill might face should the investigation confirm the allegations levied against him. "The Department does not currently have a policy in place regarding member's personal social media profiles," Officer Ben Tobias, the Gainesville Police Department's public information officer and official spokesperson, tells Bustle. Officer Tobias would not comment on whether Officer Hamill had been placed on leave or was continuing to work per normal as the investigation was carried out.
According to The Sun, 28-year-old Officer Hamill has come under scrutiny for posts he'd reportedly written and posted prior to becoming an employee of the Gainesville Police Department. The posts were captured via screenshots and sent to The Sun.
In a post dated April 2013, Hamill allegedly wrote:
Who knew that reading jewish [sic] jokes before I go to bed would not only make me feel better about myself but also help me to sleep better as well. Here is one for everybody, "What's the difference between boy scouts and jews [sic]?" Anybody know? Well it is because "Boy scouts come back from their camps."
In another post reportedly dated sometime in 2011, Hamill allegedly wrote:
So I find it funny that people will talk about how our government needs to do something about our economy and in reality it's YOU who needs to stop taking advantage of our system and get a life and do something with your life. Gotta love reality when it hits you in the face. Stupid people annoy me. Put them in an oven and deal with them the Hitler way. Haha.
According to The Sun, Hamill became an officer with the Gainesville Police Department in October 2016. Now, his future at the department could be in jeopardy following the investigation into the complaints.
On Friday, the Gainesville Police Department announced it had decided to remove its initial post with Hamill's picture from the department's official Facebook page, citing "numerous complaints and an ongoing internal review." A photograph of Officer Hamill posing with two other officers was posted to the Gainesville Police Department's official Facebook on Sept. 10 along with the caption, "Part of the night crew getting ready to do some work." Initially, it was the officer's good looks that caused the post to go viral, garnering more than 100,000 comments and more than 500,000 likes from Facebook users drooling over the three officers. It's unclear who began looking into Hamill's background following his 15-minutes of fame.
In an interview with Time — presumably conducted before any allegations had been dredged up against Hamill — the so-called "hot cop" said the attention his picture drew had been a bit shocking.
"I've never had this much attention before," Hamill told the publication. "It's an ego boost — very flattering and funny."
But if Hamill was laughing then, he's likely not laughing now.