From Davies to 'Breaking Homicide'

From Davies to 'Breaking Homicide'

Derrick Levasseur, who graduated from Davies Career & Technical High School in 2002, visited the school on Tuesday for a discussion with current students. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)
Levasseur speaks to students about career in both police work and television

LINCOLN – Retired Central Falls police officer, winner of the CBS show "Big Brother 16" and host of Discovery ID’s "Breaking Homicide," Derrick Levasseur laid the foundation for his unusual path to stardom at Davies Career and Technical High School.

While the class of 2002 Davies grad is today considered a “television personality,” Levasseur said he wasn’t in it for the acclaim when he was cast on "Big Brother" in 2014.

“I said from the very beginning: I’m not here for fame or glory. I’m here to change my family’s life,” he said.

He did just that, winning the 16th season of the reality TV game show and earning more than $500,000 for his family.

Long before strangers stopped Levasseur for selfies in the grocery store, he was a student at Davies. He returned there this week for a discussion with current students about life after graduation, and how his education has propelled his career.

Looking back, Levasseur said he “would have taken his time at Davies much more seriously,” telling students, “the choices you guys are making right now will ultimately affect where you end up. The position you’re in here at Davies is critical to the success you want to have two, five, or 15 years from now.”

His greatest takeaway from high school was the art of communication, which he carried with him in his career in law enforcement and beyond.

“When I came to Davies it was culture shock,” he said. “Spoiler alert: people in Central Falls didn’t usually have a lot in common with the people in Lincoln at first.”

Through communication, he said people with seemingly nothing in common can find similarities that connect them. “Even with different backgrounds, beliefs and ideologies, if you listen closely enough you’ll probably find you have something in common,” he said, thanking Davies for teaching him how to make connections via communication.

“I’ve been in rooms with a murderer sitting across from me, and in a matter of five minutes need to be their best friend. Finding commonalities makes them more likely to open up.”

At age 20, he became one of the youngest police officers in Central Falls after scoring the highest marks on the entrance exam out of a pool of more than 300 candidates.

He worked as a patrolman for four years before shifting into the Special Victims Unit, where he dealt with “drugs, guns and gangs.” He went undercover as a college student, grew out his beard and sported a Mohawk as he worked to find drugs on campus.

“Because I was 20 years old, nobody thought I was a cop. I fit right in,” he joked. He worked his way up to sergeant and was recruited into the FBI’s anti-terrorism unit. Just before leaving for the FBI Academy at Quantico, his application to star on "Big Brother" was accepted.

“I knew if I went on the show my FBI dreams were over,” he said. “I realized the FBI was a great opportunity, but I really wanted to experience something that, at that point, only 200 others had.”

Most of all, Levasseur said he felt he could win. He put his law enforcement skills to the test and ultimately won the game and $575,000.

“I treated it like an undercover mission. My goal was to go in, win the money and come back to my family,” he said, noting that he was the first undercover cop to play the game. He kept his identity a secret during the 100 days of filming.

When he returned home, Levasseur “went right back to police work,” though he experienced some new distractions on the job.

“They moved me to the midnight shift for the first six months because females were coming into the station asking to see me,” he said. “Some posted on Facebook that they were attempting to speed to get stopped by me.”

He returned to television to film a special about the O.J. Simpson case for Investigation Discovery’s “Is O.J. Innocent? The Missing Evidence.” After that, the network offered him his own show to host and produce called "Breaking Homicide."

Levasseaur’s show travels across the country investigating and sharing the stories of cold case murders, re-examining original clues and chasing down new ones.

After Levasseur retired from CFPD in 2017, he launched his own private investigator firm, The Break Investigative Group, based in Cumberland.