Versatile traffic police officer from Häme is the Police Officer of the Year

Publication date 12.11.2021 10.30
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Moottoripyöräpoliisi Teppo Rainio Hämeen poliisilaitokselta

Senior Constable Teppo Rainio of the Häme Police Department is the Police Officer of the Year 2021. Traffic control and other traffic-related questions are the top priorities of Teppo Rainio who works in Lahti.

In his speech in the Police Officer of the Year 2021 event, Senior Constable Rainio underlined that traffic is something that concerns us all every single day.  Traffic is also an element of our growth story.  

- A young person becomes a traffic member when they get their driver’s licence.  The driver’s licence and becoming 15 years old immediately means more responsibility. Today, acceptance is sought through social media clicks or numbers of followers. Under this pressure, the young drivers are particularly vulnerable. In traffic, seeking attention often manifests itself in terms or excesses and extra risks, he adds.

In fact, Senior Constable Rainio finds that the education of the young towards the correct and safe traffic behaviour is particularly important part of his work.

The title of the Police Officer of the Year 2021 was made public on 12. November 2021 in Helsinki.

Racing and moped meets are reasons for concern

Traffic is today safer than ever before but the good trend in safety has slowed down, and the risks taken by young men in traffic are a particular cause for concern for the Police Officer of the Year.

-  Some young drivers accelerate and race each other with no respect for speed limits, or for their personal or other people’s safety, Teppo Rainio comments on recent developments.

According to him, the situation has been made more difficult by the exceptional licences given to 17-years-olds, and naturally, the COVID-19 pandemic with no chance for the young to go to parties or places to meet. 

-  When a young person loses their driver’s licence for mere thoughtlessness, the consequences may be far-reaching. With no licence, they often also lose their job and even the car which has been bought with outside money. It may even be that all that remains is the debt for the car, and this may mean a downward slide in life, he adds.

A second worrying phenomenon are the moped meets that may gather hundreds of young people. Often the meets involve vehicles that should not be on the roads at all. They may be in poor shape, dangerous or even stolen. Sometimes the parents help to bring these vehicles to the meets in trailers. 

There is speeding, there are stunts, and the spectators’ hurray and cheer.  No helmets, tyres in shreds. Photos and videos appear in the social media. Even alcohol and drugs may be involved.

- The traffic behaviour learned in adolescence is easily carried over to car driving and potent motorbikes, and the risk for crashes keeps on growing, Senior Constable Rainio points out.

Parents, please take an interest in the young

According to Teppo Rainio, the parents are not aware of the true nature of what their children are up to. In fact, he encourages the parents to take an interest in the doings of the young – and why not joint them in their hobbies.

- We would prevent these excesses if the parents were present already when the moped is bought, meaning that they would not buy the moped that the young find “cool” but is in actual fact too fast, or often also has shortcomings in equipment or is downright against the legal provisions.   Moreover, the parents should follow the condition of the moped, talk with the young about the way to drive it and make them respect the agreed times to return home, he adds.

However, Senior Constable Rainio wants to underline that only a minority of the young acts recklessly. 

- The majority behave as they should and respect the rules. Unfortunately, the ones that the Police has dealings with, are the problem cases. If I had more time, I would like to go and talk to the young who drive their mopeds and cars impeccably. It would be great to discuss traffic issues with them, encourage and thank them, he adds.

Senior Constable Teppo Rainio in front of his police motorcycle.

Approachable and versatile traffic expert

According to the superiors, Teppo Rainio is known among both the customers and the colleagues as an upright and approachable Police officer. 

When involved in control work, he focuses on the customer and is prepared to listen and discuss with patience, whatever the starting situation.

His superiors also praise him for his active and versatile self-development throughout the career.  
A motorbike officer since 2017, his job description also includes controls of off-road traffic driving a snowmobile and quad bike as well as demanding control of the way of driving, using specialised equipment. 

Senior Constable Rainio also masters the use of an automated control car and the controls of heavy traffic. 

It takes time to become an adult driver

Teppo Rainio is also one of the Police driving permit trainers at the Häme Police Department. He is, indeed, particularly prepared for this since he has completed the specialised vocational qualification of driving instructor, which is a big asset in traffic control work.

Senior Constable Rainio finds that the current requirements of driver’s licence type B include annoyingly few hours of obligatory driving training. 

- People tend to overestimate their skills, and they take the driving test tentatively as soon as they have had the obligatory hours of obligatory teaching.

Today, driving training can start already at the age of 16 years. According to Senior Constable Rainio, this is good because driving becomes more of a habit and the driver grows along with the practice, becoming more adult before getting the actual licence.  There is no longer the awful pressure to get the driver’s licence in a few months at 18 which was the case earlier.

Senior Constable Rainio is also well versed with the novelties of the new Road Traffic Act. In fact, he has trained the Häme Police department staff about the overall reform in 2020, and he has also been a road accident investigation team Police member since 2010.

About becoming a Police and life in general

Becoming a policeman was not a childhood dream for Teppo Rainio.  After his military service, he worked a few years as a guard and only then applied for police studies which he completed in 2004.

He started his official Police work in Padasjoki, a small rural Police district, with mixed responsibilities where everybody in duty covers all Police tasks. His way to work close to people goes back to those times.

As a result of organisational changes, Teppo Rainio moved to the Lahti Police department in 2009, taking up field tasks. In this context, he became increasingly interested in traffic control duties, and along with the following change in 2014, he was offered the opportunity to move to the Häme Police Department, traffic sector, and become a fulltime traffic control officer.

Today, he works as a member of a team focusing on heavy traffic controls. 

- I have never regretted the choice of my profession. I am still very enthusiastic of what I do. The work-related tasks are versatile and interesting, and I keep learning new things all the time, he says.

In his leisure, Teppo Rainio cannot keep away from traffic, although it is not road traffic then: he drives motocross with his sons Onni and Sisu of 3 and 6 years, respectively.

- This way they need not buy a teenager moped, he adds, laughing.

46th Police Officer of the year

This was the 46th time of nominating the Police of the Year. The decision is taken by Junior Chamber International of Helsinki, the Finnish Police Federation and the National Police Board of Finland. This year’s winner was published on Friday 12 November 2021 at the Finnish House of Nobility in Helsinki. 

According to the decision-makers, the current year’s theme, traffic control, is the kind of policing that is widely visible to the general public and has an impact on our everyday and feeling of safety. 

The Police officers in traffic control duties are often the first to arrive when something bad happens in traffic. They are the ones to put themselves in danger on the road while taking care of other people’s safety. These professionals also guarantee that the negative phenomena in the traffic are noticed and we are able to intervene.

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