Finnish police use cars, vans, motorcycles, scooters, boats, water scooters, snowmobiles, quad bikes, bicycles and light electric vehicles.
The police has to operate in many different kinds of environments and weather conditions, which is why the organisation also needs a range of different kinds of vehicles.
Police cars and vans
Cars and vans are among the police’s most commonly used vehicles. Patrol units use cars and vans to travel between incidents, and marked police cars play an important role in maintaining public order and in traffic enforcement. The majority of police cars and vans are equipped to respond to emergency calls.
The police also has unmarked cars, vans and lorries as well as various kinds of light armoured vehicles. Most patrol units drive around in cars or vans. Some police cars and vans are equipped to carry scales for weighing heavy goods vehicles or automated traffic surveillance technology and others for crime scene investigation. Some vehicles are unmarked.
Uniformed police officers spend much of their time in patrol cars, where they have access to all the most important information systems. In addition to the officers’ personal gear, the vehicles also carry, for example, protective equipment and a basic crime scene investigation kit. Patrol cars are generally also equipped with an automatic number-plate recognition system that scans number plates of oncoming vehicles. The system alerts the officers if anything is amiss with a vehicle.
The police also has a number of fully electric cars that can be used to attend to non-urgent matters.
The police’s vehicle maintenance staff ensure that the fleet of vehicles is always fully functional and safe. Patrol officers also have a duty to look after the vehicles they use during each shift.
Police cars and vans are equipped with flashing blue lights and a loud siren. These signals are used to alert other road users to approaching emergency vehicles. Police cars also have a flashing red light that officers use to effect traffic stops.
Motorcycles and scooters
The police’s motorcycles and scooters are a frequent sight on the roads from early spring late into the autumn. Police officers who are due to ride a motorcycle or a scooter take a refresher course on a test track in Räyskälä each spring.
The police has both marked and unmarked motorcycles. There are also several different models in use.
Motorcycles are quick to deploy and agile in heavy traffic. They also carry all the equipment and information systems that police officers need for their work. This means that even motorcycle officers are able to take care of most police routines “on the spot”.
Motorcycles are most typically used in traffic enforcement and on escort duty. Motorcycle officers also sometimes respond to emergency calls.
Boats and water scooters
The police uses boats to patrol lakes and rivers as well as the sea around Finland. Boat patrols also assist with emergency operations in the archipelago, for example, where getting to the scene of an incident is often faster by boat than by road. Marine officers complete their basic training in Savonlinna, where they learn the skills needed to operate police boats and jet skis.
Helsinki Police Department’s newest patrol boat, known as Ville 1, is also equipped to deal with oil spills.
The patrol vehicles available to marine police officers also include water scooters. Water scooters are particularly useful in shallow water or when speed is of the essence. They are also easy to transport to smaller water bodies on a trailer.
Snowmobiles and quad bikes
Snowmobiles and quad bikes are especially well suited to the terrain of northern Finland. Police officers who are due to ride snowmobiles and quad bikes undertake rough-terrain training to give them the necessary competence.
The police uses snowmobiles to patrol off-road areas in the winter.
Quad bikes are used especially in the north. However, southern police forces have also begun to use them more extensively in recent years, as there has been less snow in the winter. Quad bikes are especially useful for patrolling areas that are difficult to reach and for off-road searches in situations where officers need to carry equipment.
The police uses bicycles in towns and cities as well as at public events. Bicycle officers help to maintain public order in crowded town centres.
Most bicycle officers are engaged in traffic enforcement, especially in respect of pedestrians and cyclists. Helsinki Police Department has a special traffic enforcement task force for pedestrians and cyclists, which is also experimenting with electric bikes.
Light electric vehicles
The police uses segways to patrol and maintain order in outdoor areas and public spaces such as Helsinki International Airport.
Officers at Helsinki Airport also have an electric golf cart equipped with the police’s logo and siren at their disposal.