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Reality PD

denver-14Jeffersonville’s Sgt. Denver Leverett is a fan favorite on A&E’s “Live PD”

By Jim Nichols | Photos by Christian Watson and courtesy A&E

Check out social media most weekend

nights and chances are you’ll see someone

talking about “Live PD.”

That’s because A&E’s hit show frequently

features the Jeffersonville Police Department

and Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Social media

seems to thrive on drama and “Live PD” offers

plenty from right here in Southern Indiana.

The program follows police departments from

across the country in real time as they patrol

their communities. Think of it as live “Cops” with

minimal edits.

Even with showcasing as many as eight

departments per three-hour episode, some

officers stand out. But none get more attention

than Sgt. Denver Leverett of the Jeffersonville

Police Department.

Often referred to as “The Human Lie Detector,”

Leverett seems to play Jedi mind tricks on suspects

he encounters on patrol. After a series of questions,

he’s uncovered a sawed-off shotgun, had a family

admit to buying crack and correctly told a woman

she has drugs in her bra – all on live TV.

“When you’ve had 17 years to perfect your

craft, you’re going to get good at it,” he says. “It’s

like a game of cat and mouse. It’s like a game of

tag. It’s verbal judo.

“The process of doing that is very rewarding.”

So, is he just showing off for the cameras?

“I’m going to do what I do whether they’re

there or not,” he says. “They don’t influence how

I do my job.”

Sgt. Denver Leverett and Flex

Sgt. Denver Leverett and Flex

According to Leverett, it’s all about his

observations and approach. He notices sweating,

shaking and lack of eye contact, all the while

treating the suspect with dignity.

“When I go up to a car, for the first 60 seconds I’m

just looking for criminal indicators,” he explains.

“If you talk down to people or belittle them, they

aren’t going to talk to you. If you treat them with

respect, they’ll talk to you.”

That’s all well and good, but how does he get

suspects to admit to crimes through what seems

like a casual conversation?

“The key to being the ‘Lie Detector’ is you have

to be persistent,” he explains. “I’ll have to ask the

same question two or three times in different ways.

I’ll do anything to get to the truth.”

He’ll also throw out an exaggerated question

like, “You got five pounds of pot in your glove

box?” only to have a suspect admit they have a

smaller amount somewhere else.

Jedi mind tricks, indeed.

The man behind the badge

Leverett says he’s wanted to be a police officer

since he was a boy – more specifically, a “K-9

cop.” A graduate of Jeffersonville High School

and Indiana University, he’s part of a family with

a long line of public service. Those connections

helped him find his calling.

“My uncle was the police chief, so as a young boy,

I was able to ride with the K-9 Unit and volunteer

my time,” he said. “That’s how I developed my

passion.”

He joined the Jeffersonville Police Department

in early 2001 and became part of the K-9 Unit

within a couple of years.

They say when you do what you love, you never

work a day in your life. That saying holds true for

Leverett. “I still enjoy coming to work 17 years

later,” he says.

A big part of his passion is getting drugs off the

street. For him, it’s personal. He’s had family and

friends struggle with addiction, even resulting in

death. Helping others avoid the same fate keeps

him going.

“I couldn’t find a drunk in a bar,” he says. “My

passion is drug work. Narcotics is my bread and

butter.”

Outside work he enjoys Crossfit and cheering

on the Louisville Cardinals and Houston Texans.

Most important, though, are his wife and 2-yearold

son. “When I’m off, you’d never know I was a

policeman,” he says.

Paws down, he’s a celebrity

Chances are, even casual fans of “Live PD,” know

Leverett’s canine companion, Flex, who’s been

by his side for more than four years. The brindle

Dutch Shepherd serves two purposes – narcotics

detection and patrol.

How good is he at what he does? According

to Leverett, Flex can find a quarter in an open

field from the human scent it retains. Although

drug traffickers try to conceal the scent of their

cargo with a variety of aromatics few, if any, get

past Flex’s sniff.

His appearances on “Live PD” earned him a

visit to New York for an in-studio appearance

with Leverett. The trip came complete with a

first-class flight – Flex flew at Leverett’s feet – and

accommodations. Throughout their appearance,

Flex calmly rested on a platform as his handler

provided commentary along with the show’s hosts.

According to Dan Cesareo, creator and executive

producer of “Live PD,” Leverett provided priceless

perspective during his appearance.

“The primary goal of ‘Live PD’ is to provide

viewers a deep dive into what policing looks like

across America and what officers encounter on a

regular basis while patrolling their communities,”

he said. “It’s been fascinating to watch how viewers

engage with various officers featured on the series,

and there’s consistently a vested interest in how

officers, like Sgt. Denver Leverett, work with K-9

units. It was a good opportunity to invite Sgt.

Leverett and Flex to come in-studio last November

to provide additional commentary and analysis

from his unique perspective during the live show.”

Leverett also answered viewer questions during

that episode. One tweeted about what type of food

Flex eats. He replied with the name brand and

found out the next week he’d received a year’s

supply from the manufacturer.

That’s not all Flex has received. Fans have sent

collars, toys and even pig ears to Jeffersonville’s

most notable narc.

But when the day’s over, he heads home with

Leverett and transitions to a family pet.

“When he’s home, he’s totally different. He’s

just a dog … a pet,” Leverett says. “But when he

sees me through the glass door, starting to put on

my uniform, he gets excited. He knows every time

I put on the uniform, we go to work or to train.”

The ‘Live PD’ effect

Sgt. Denver Leverett (middle) with “Live PD” host Dan Abrams (left) and analyst Tom Morris Jr.

Sgt. Denver Leverett (middle) with “Live PD” host Dan Abrams (left) and analyst Tom Morris Jr.

Leverett’s abilities, which are often cited on “Live PD” even

when he’s not on the show, have earned him somewhat of a

following both locally and across the country.

“Denver is a great ambassador for the City of Jeffersonville,”

says Jeffersonville resident Larry Thomas. “His honor and

professionalism, often in the face of ridiculous behavior by the

people he is sworn to protect, has helped me become a fan.”

Tim Hess, a “Live PD” viewer from Citrus County, Florida,

shares Thomas’s respect for Leverett. “’Live PD’ host Dan

Abrams doesn’t refer to him as the ‘Human Lie Detector’ for no

reason. Denver has seen it all and is a great judge of character.

The streets of Jeffersonville are safer because of the job he and

his K-9 partner Flex do on a nightly basis.”

Still, there are detractors. Some say the show puts Jeffersonville

in a bad light, only showing the negative side of a city with so

much going for it. Leverett understands the sentiment but

contends the program reveals a reality few are aware of.

“It’s been nothing but a positive experience,” he says of his

time on the show. “You’re always going to have naysayers, but

you can’t please everybody.”

“It gives a realistic view of what we deal with on a daily basis,”

he continues. “Unless it’s on the news or in the papers, people

don’t know it happens.”

Like Flex, Leverett receives his share of gifts from viewers.

Each one is answered with a signed photo, patch or other piece

of memorabilia. For some fans, like a 10-year-old autistic boy

from Pennsylvania, Leverett takes it a step further, making a

call or speaking via FaceTime.

“(This person is) facing challenges I could never understand,”

Leverett says of his fan in the Keystone State, “yet I’m his

happiness for three hours on a Friday night.”

TV time has also led to several appearances at area fundraisers,

galas and functions. Leverett is honored, but manages to keep

things in perspective.

“Sometimes they think you’re a star,” he says. “But I’m just

a father and a husband. I’m just me.”