A man died of a gunshot wound inflicted by a police officer by national road 4 in Orimattila, Southern Finland, on 2 October, 2016.
A man died of a gunshot wound inflicted by a police officer by national road 4 in Orimattila, Southern Finland, on 2 October, 2016.

Finnish police officers discharged their firearms 122 times in 2003–2013, reveals an assessment conducted by the Police University College.

The assessment found that police officers in the country used their firearms – that is, discharged their firearms or drew their firearms as a preventive measure – a total of 385 times over the ten-year period. No more than seven people died of a gunshot wound inflicted by a police officer over the past ten years, the Police University College highlights in a press release.

Related posts:

- Man shot to death by police officer suspected of attempted manslaughter (04 October, 2016)

- Police officer uses deadly force in Orimattila (03 October, 2016)

- KRP: Vihti gunman opened fire at four police officers (23 June, 2016)

- Niinistö: Act of violence against police is act of violence against entire society (20 June, 2016)

The latest such incident dates back to 2 October, 2016, when a man suspected of attempted manslaughter was shot fatally by a police officer in Orimattila, a town located some 20 kilometres south of Lahti, sparking the ongoing debate over the use of force by police officers.

The National Police Board has gathered data on police firearm use since 2003.

The Police University College also points out that police officers in the country respond to more than one million calls every year but only seldom use force in, for example, apprehending a suspect. Police officers, it points out, used force in no more than 2 per cent of the 97,566 arrests they made in 2005.

Use of force is defined as the use of physical force or accessories, such as batons, tasers, police dogs or – in the most extreme cases – firearms.

Henri Rikander, the chief inspector in charge of the assessment, reminds in the press release that comparing the use of force by police to other countries is problematic due to various differences in categorising and monitoring practices.

“Data gathered in Seattle, the United States, indicate that on average police officers use force in 2.4 out of every 100 arrests. In Finland, use of force assessments indicate that the corresponding figure is 1.7. Drawing a comparison to the United States is, however, difficult […] due to distinct differences in how force and especially firearms are used,” he says.

The Police University College also calls attention to a doctoral dissertation published in 2013, indicating that nearly one in two police officers encounter physical violence on a monthly basis. The share creeps up to two in three if verbal abuse and threats are also taken into consideration.

“The violence encountered by police officers has diversified, with the means ranging from biting to running over. Use of force assessments suggest the offender was armed with a knife, a firearm or other instrument in 25 per cent of the cases,” tells Rikander.

It is similarly rare for a police officer to die on the line of duty in Finland. The police officer who was shot to death during a siege in Vihti, Uusimaa, in June was only the second to die on the line of duty since the turn of the millennium, according to YLE.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Samuli Ikäheimo – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

Finland in the world press

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