Jeffersonville’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
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
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.”
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
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
“I couldn’t find a drunk in a bar,” he says. “My
passion is drug work. Narcotics is my bread and
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
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.”