Constable Reinikainen voted the 2015 Police Officer of the Year
National Police Board's press release 15 October 2015
Sergeant Toni Reinikainen from the Eastern Finland Police Department has been voted the 2015 Police Officer of the Year. In South Savo, he is known as Constable Reinikainen, especially among young people on Facebook, in local schools and at other events. Reinikainen’s official title is Deputy Director of the South Savo Prevention Unit.
"I have consciously channelled my virtual role model, Constable Reinikainen, in my work. Although the character dates back more than 35 years, people still remember him. And the tactics that Artturi Sakari employed in his police work were exemplary. If I could be like him, I would be a good police officer”, explains the recently crowned Police Officer of the Year.
Playing a part in people’s daily lives
Toni Reinikainen believes that it is important for the police to be involved in the daily lives of ordinary people, not just when something unusual or bad happens.
"People want to see the police monitoring traffic, patrolling our streets and maintaining order at public events. Police presence creates a strong sense of security, especially in remote and sparsely populated areas outside big cities”, he says.
Reaching out to primary schools
Toni Reinikainen works full-time as a community police officer. He believes that it is important for children to get to know the police as soon as they start primary school, and that children’s first encounters with the police should be positive. Good relations between the police and local youth make the less pleasant encounters during children’s teenage years a little easier.
"In South Savo, our goal is for all children to meet a police officer at least three times before they leave school: a couple of times during primary school and once during secondary school. Every school is equally important, whether it is located in the middle of the countryside or in the heart of a city”, he says.
With the youngest schoolchildren, Reinikainen talks about hitting, stealing, friendship and traffic. Topics discussed with the older ones include, among others, social media.
Toni Reinikainen is also an online police officer. He believes that social media provide a great way to reach out to young people.
"Social media are a natural platform for continuing our interaction with the young people we meet during school visits or through our work otherwise. Mentioning that I am an online police officer during school visits always results in an influx of friend requests. Young people find many subjects, such as bullying, easier to discuss via a computer”, he explains.
Reinikainen also organises events for young people, such as moped meetings, online.
Constable Reinikainen is not short of friends: He has already received more than 5 000 friend requests on Facebook.
"Social media are a better way to reach young people than the telephone, if, for example, we need to talk to them in connection with an investigation”, Reinikainen says.
Cattle farmers, cooperation with rescue services, and auctioneering
In addition to working with young people and maintaining police presence on the internet, the multifaceted Constable Reinikainen also has many other talents.
For example, he is responsible for following up on illegal activism on cattle farms and for educating cattle farmers on crime prevention on farms. Reinikainen is the perfect person for the job: He trained as an agrologist before joining the police.
His career before the police included working as a semi-permanent firefighter at the then Kangasniemi Fire and Rescue Department and running courses on emergency firefighting and safety. He also worked part-time as a unit leader at the South Savo Rescue Department.
Reinikainen also puts his jovial nature to good use by auctioneering at lost-and-found property auctions in Mikkeli and by organising and hosting the Police Day Event in South Savo.
“I have been able to build my own role and choose my own duties, which makes my work very rewarding and varied. I have never felt like not going to work, even when I have been physically exhausted”, Reinikainen says.
40th Police Officer of the Year award
This year’s Police Officer of the Year award is the 40th of its kind. The Police Officer of the Year is chosen by JCI Helsinki, the Finnish Police Federation and the National Police Board.
JCI Helsinki is part of an international network of young active citizens creating a positive change. JCI Helsinki brought the Police Officer of the Year concept to Finland from Manila in the 1970s.
Sergeant Toni Reinikainen, tel. +358 29 545 5574
For pictures of the Police Officer of the Year, please visit the website of the Finnish Police Federation at www.spjl.fi/medialle/kuva-_ja_logopankki