Police Officer of the Year 2023 - Ismo Venäläinen:  High-quality criminal investigation is a fundamental pillar of public trust and police operations

Publication date 8.11.2023 10.51
News item
Police Officer of the Year Ismo Venäläinen. Photo by: Pihla Liukkonen.

Police Officer of the Year 2023 is Detective Senior Sergeant Ismo Venäläinen from Eastern Finland Police Department.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ismo Venäläinen, an experienced criminal investigator from Eastern Finland Police Department, has been chosen as Police Officer of the Year 2023. In the ever-changing field of crime and the increasing demands, Venäläinen has not rested on his laurels but has continuously developed his professional skills.

“Venäläinen is a very good example of how criminal investigation is both interesting and challenging as well as important from the civic perspective. He has built up an extensive professional repertoire and has also progressed in his career,” the jury stated.

The Police Officer of the Year 2023 was announced in Wednesday 8 November 2023 in Helsinki.

Theme of crime prevention

Crime prevention was chosen as the theme for this year’s Police Officer of the Year. Crime prevention easily takes a back seat in the public eye, but it is one of the most important tasks of the police in the fight against crime through investigation, intelligence and preventive action.

Police Officer of the Year, Ismo Venäläinen highlights the importance of criminal investigation: It is important for the reliability and credibility of the police that offences reported by citizens are solved. Criminal investigation and field operations are both fundamental pillars of police operations and affect the everyday lives of ordinary citizens.

Crime and police work are constantly changing

Venäläinen works as a detective senior sergeant and team leader at Eastern Finland Police Department, in a long-term criminal investigation team at Mikkeli police station.

He has gained particularly diverse experience during his 27 years of criminal investigation. Since 1996, he has been an investigator, head of investigations in practically all aspects of criminal investigation starting from the pre-trial investigation of basic offences to investigation of the most serious and complex crimes. 

”Investigation has changed a lot. Back in the day, time was spent investigating “real crimes”, such as beer and cigarette thefts, car thefts, assaults and homicides. These days crime has increasingly moved online and the number of crime reports is considerably higher than earlier,” Venäläinen describes the change.

Venäläinen has noticed that the increasing workload means there is not the same willingness to investigate as earlier. Despite this, Venäläinen still finds the work meaningful:
“Personally, I’ve enjoyed investigating volume crimes, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. The work involves a broad spectrum of almost all types of crime.He sees the challenge as being the large piles of cases that need to be reduced to a tolerable level. 

“The work calls for doers and hands. Criminal investigation should be developed so that the mountains of cases are reduced to a tolerable level, otherwise there’s a risk of investigators suffering from burnout. We team leaders are also in a pole position when it comes to how cases are allocated to investigators.”

In her keynote speech at the Police Officer of the Year event, Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen said that resources for criminal investigation will be improved and that measures to this end have already been initiated.

“The number of police officers will be increased during this government term. In addition to this, the Government Programme includes a number of measures to ease criminal investigation work,” Rantanen said.

48th Police Officer of the Year

Ismo Venäläinen is the 48th Police officer of the Year. He considers the choice an important one.

“It feels great that someone working in criminal investigation is honoured with this award. The Police Officer of the Year award is a great thing personally and in terms of recognition for criminal investigation as a whole. This is the greatest single accolade an individual police officer can receive. I’m both very surprised and delighted that this time I was selected to receive the award,” he said at the announcement event.

Helsinki Junior Chamber International (JCI), the Finnish Police Union (SPJL) and the National Police Board jointly select the winner of the Police Officer of the Year award. The winner of this year’s award was announced on Wednesday 8 November 2023 at the Finnish House of Nobility in Helsinki. 

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