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Bagpipes squawk and a booming drum announces the end of Commander Robert Glover’s 27-year career with the Metropolitan Police Department. It’s May 4, and scores of officers are lined up along Indiana Avenue NW as Glover walks out of MPD headquarters and stops at the top step. Below, the department has literally rolled out a red carpet for him.
Fellow officers lower their right hands from their brows, and a radio dispatcher’s voice fills the street.
“On behalf of the men and women of MPD … it’s been an honor and a privilege to serve alongside you for over 27 years,” the dispatcher says.
The bagpipes start up again, and Glover walks down the red carpet, surrounded by clapping cops, some of whom attended the event while being paid overtime, according to text messages shared with City Paper. At the end of the line stands Chief Robert Contee, who embraces Glover before the retiring commander climbs into the back of an SUV and is escorted away by a small team of motorcycles, lights flashing.
The ceremony, known among MPD members as a “final walkout,” is a commencement of sorts that Contee holds for those who’ve served long and distinguished careers with the department. Glover, whose career with MPD began in 1994, has been praised for his role in leading MPD’s response to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Just this month, he received the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his leadership that day. And Contee promoted Glover to commander shortly after the insurrection in January 2021, but Glover decided to retire months later.
When Glover’s final walkout was announced, some officers wondered whether he deserved the ceremony. Just a few months earlier, MPD had closed an investigation into a pornographic Tumblr blog that Glover ran. Investigators found that the commander violated MPD’s policy on social media use, but found no evidence that the site contained child pornography, according to an email shared with City Paper. One retired officer emailed Contee with her objections to the retirement ceremony.
“It is appalling to hear that you plan to honor Robert Glover after knowing of his porno/Tumblr account,” retired officer Tabatha Knight wrote to Contee and every member of the D.C. Council last April. Knight is one of several current and former MPD employees, all of them Black women, who are suing the department for discrimination based on race and sex.
“Honoring this man further proves our point that none of you care anything about women,” Knight’s email continued. Knight worked for Glover starting in 2016, according to her lawsuit, which says that he “was openly rude and hostile to [her] from the beginning of her tenure working under him.” Glover is not a named defendant in the lawsuit, but Knight describes unpleasant encounters with him, including an instance where she alleges that he slammed a door in her face when she tried to attend a meeting, and his allegedly hostile behavior toward women of color is mentioned throughout the complaint.
Glover’s Tumblr came to light more than a year ago, as Knight and her attorney, Pam Keith, were preparing to file their lawsuit. Keith uncovered the Tumblr through an online investigator, Christopher Bouzy, whom she hired to look into social media histories of the MPD officials that her clients had identified as problematic.
In September, Bouzy, the founder of Bot Sentinel, a firm that tracks online disinformation and harassment, tweeted details about the Tumblr account. The site had been deleted by the time Bouzy found it, but certain pages were saved to the Wayback Machine, an internet archiving site. Bouzy linked the site (MPDlion.tumblr.com) to other social media accounts with the same username, which he believes are unique to Glover. Bouzy declined to comment for this article. Efforts to reach Glover were unsuccessful. An MPD spokesperson contacted Glover on City Paper’s behalf, but the retired commander did not agree to an interview.
In his tweets and in an email to Keith, Bouzy notes that Glover’s Twitter and Facebook accounts both use “MPDlion,” an apparent reference to the Metropolitan Police Department and the Penn State Nittany Lions; according to Glover’s biography on the MPD website, he graduated from Penn State in 1993. Bouzy also found an email address with the same username.
In screenshots that Bouzy posted, a banner at the top of the Tumblr page reads “Normal married guy that likes many things NSFW,” and the archived pages show images of naked women posing and performing sex acts. Keith says she was surprised at what Bouzy found and was concerned the people in the photo could be younger than 18.
Starting in the mid to late aughts, Tumblr was a popular site for adult content, in part because of its relatively lax rules around nudity compared to other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But in 2018, Tumblr banned all adult content after learning that child pornography was being published on the site. The archived pages from Glover’s account are dated between 2013 and 2019.
Keith passed the information on to another of her clients, now-retired Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson. At the time, Dickerson was leading MPD’s Youth and Family Engagement Bureau, which investigates child pornography and child sex trafficking. Dickerson reported the website to MPD’s Internal Affairs Division in September of 2021. She says she also met with Contee as soon as the site came to her attention.
“I wanted my detectives to use techniques on social media to try to ID the girls,” Dickerson says. “They could be 16, or they could be 18 years old, and the only way to know if they were underage is by identifying the girls from the images.”
But an internal affairs agent told her not to get involved, she says, which was unusual.
“In other cases where there have been police officers who have been accused of any type of child pornography, sex abuse cases, anything like that, my bureau would normally conduct the [criminal] investigation and the IAD agent would shadow them for certain interviews,” Dickerson says. “They would present the criminal case, and if nothing went forward in the criminal case, then IAD would pick it up to do the administrative investigation. But it didn’t happen like that this time.”
An MPD spokesperson confirms that IAD opened an investigation but declined to provide more details. The department does not discuss personnel matters, and officers’ disciplinary files are considered confidential, though the D.C. Council passed legislation last year that will make some internal disciplinary records public going forward.
About six months after she initially reported the site, Dickerson asked internal investigators for an update. In an email that she showed to City Paper, an IAD agent said investigators determined that Glover violated the department’s policy on social media use, and that allegations involving underage girls were “unfounded.” According to MPD’s classifications, “unfounded” means “there are no facts to support that the incident occurred.”
The email is sparse on details, but MPD’s general orders on social media use instruct officers to “use good judgment and refrain from engaging in conduct that undermines their credibility as MPD members” and “from conduct that brings discredit upon themselves, MPD, or the department.”
Dickerson says the only way to know whether the girls on Glover’s Tumblr site are underage is to identify them. She clarifies that she hasn’t seen the full investigative report and doesn’t know what specific steps internal affairs investigators took, if any, to do so.
Dickerson says she was told that the case was submitted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and that prosecutors declined to pursue charges. A spokesperson for the USAO says via email that the office typically does not confirm the existence of investigations and declined to comment further.
Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, Keith lays at least partial blame at Contee’s feet.
“At no point did Robert Contee state to his troops that what was done here was wrong,” Keith says. “It ended up on Facebook. People were talking about it—junior people, incoming people, cadets, recruits—were seeing a commander of MPD do this and not one word from leadership that this was wrong.”
While Glover received recognition for his role in coordinating MPD’s response to the insurrection, he caught the attention of activists at the end of 2020, when members of the far-right group the Proud Boys clashed with protesters in downtown D.C. Black Lives Matter DC tweeted a video of Glover walking in front of a group of Proud Boys. Some in the group appear to provoke and then attack a smaller group of people wearing hoodies and helmets. The video shows Glover spraying a chemical irritant into the brawl. After the two groups separated, Glover continued to spray the people who had been attacked by members of the Proud Boys, the video shows.
That video resurfaced again in July of 2022 when Glover gave an interview to NBC Washington about his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. He was also quoted in the Washington Post defending MPD Commander Jason Bagshaw’s aggressive tactics with protesters during street demonstrations. Last July, Bagshaw shot and killed an armed man at the Wharf—an incident that renewed police reform activists’ concerns about his behavior. In April 2022, Bagshaw was promoted to commander and took over Glover’s old job as head of the special operations division.
Dickerson, for her part, says that she has never worked with Glover, and her only interest was in determining whether the individuals in the photos on the Tumblr page were underage. More broadly, she says, investigations like the one into Glover, or the one into Assistant Chief Andre Wright’s sexual relationships with subordinates, are diminishing the department’s ability to function effectively.
“I’m actually embarrassed now that I think about all this stuff that goes on,” Dickerson says. “When I think about how lives are being lost in this city, and we have all this other stuff that’s just a distraction. The reason we can’t get real work done is all of this.”