The prestigious Police Officer of the Year award was presented today, 8 November 2023, to Detective Senior Sergeant Ismo Venäläinen from Eastern Finland Police Department. At the same time, the choice of Police Officer of the Year is also a tribute to police criminal investigation professionals everywhere in Finland.
Criminal investigations are an important part of the functioning of society and implementation of justice. It lays the foundation for the functioning of our legal system and for the implementation of criminal liability in society. Criminal investigation maintains internal security, justice and social order and deserves great respect.
Because of the societal importance of criminal investigation, the police must constantly work to develop it. It’s important that leadership, ways of working, legislation and competence are developed and to adopt the means that best promote demanding work at any given time and which meet society's demands on the police. The foundation of the operation, the cornerstone, requires particular care. With regard to criminal investigations, the foundation for the entire criminal process is the pre-trial investigation and so-called multidisciplinary investigation, which are responsible for processing a vast number of investigation reports and the actual investigation.
Police officers and other public officials conducting criminal investigations expose themselves to work-related pressure, which consists of workload, its demands and even the risks posed by doing the work itself. The demands of police criminal investigation have increased over the years, and doing the work requires strong professionalism and dedication. There is also a constantly increasing need for special expertise.
It’s important that society appreciates the work done in criminal investigations and is aware that professional and reliable policing can’t be taken for granted, but that successful recruitment, training, up-to-date legislation and other tools are required to maintain it. And most important of all is dedicated and competent people.
The selection of Police Officer of the Year is not only a tribute to the person receiving the award, but is also a broader message, a token of appreciation and gratitude to those working in criminal investigations.
Minna Ketola Assistant Police Commissioner, Head of Crime Prevention Unit National Police Board