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Downs featured in Canadian ‘cop’ documentary at TIFF

By Jennifer Brown, Senior Editor

The Toronto International Film Festival’s (TIFF) red carpet will be welcoming Jim Downs, managing director of MKD International Inc., when a documentary about the lives of retired police officers premieres next month.

Downs, who was a police officer and detective in Toronto for 22 years, is featured in a documentary titled Coppers — a look at the careers of retired police officers through a series of interviews. The film will have its world premiere during TIFF, which runs Sept. 5 to 15.

“The production company approached me a couple of years ago, indicating they wanted to talk about the experiences of retired officers and the challenges and stresses of the job,” Downs tells He says the filmmakers were particularly interested in his work as a detective in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue area of Toronto.

The documentary highlights how some officers are affected by stress and depression as a result of the intense nature of the job and the trauma that can occur.

“When it comes to events and how people react to them, everyone is different,” says Downs who specialized in organized crime, drug, and outlaw biker activity. “What impacts me will impact other people differently.”

A trailer for Coppers, by documentary filmmaker Alan Zweig, provides a sneak peek of the production. The film is one of just three Canadian docs chosen to appear at TIFF this September. The film will also air on TVOntario later this year.

As a former member of the police force involved in patrolling the Jane and Finch neighbourhood, Downs is interviewed for the documentary during a driving tour of that community, and in particular an area of public housing where a security guard was shot during an altercation involving an intruder in June 1997.

“Shots were being fired all over the place during the struggle,” Downs recalls. “When he was shot, the security guard ran out into the middle of Jane Street at 3 a.m. He was shot a second time but survived even though he was unconscious in hospital for several days.”

Through the interviewing of witnesses and use of DNA evidence Downs discovered the shooter was someone who had first appeared to police as a witness.

An exact date for the TIFF screening of Coppers has not yet been released.

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