Finnish police used firearms twice last weekend

A knife-wielding man behaving erratically was shot in the leg by a police officer in Herttoniemi, Eastern Helsinki, on 15 July, 2017.

Finnish police officers discharged their firearms on two occasions last weekend.

The Helsinki Police Department received a report of a knife-wielding man behaving erratically in Herttoniemi, Eastern Helsinki, at roughly 10am on Saturday. The responding police officers had to use a firearm to apprehend the man after he began to approach them and refused to comply with orders to drop the knife.

The man had reportedly behaved aggressively toward passers-by prior to the arrival of the police officers.

“There is no information on the motive behind the act. The targeted individual is being treated in a hospital for an injury to the leg. The life of the individual is not in danger,” said a spokesperson for the Helsinki Police Department.

The second, similar, incident took place later on Saturday in Vaasa. Police officers used a firearm to contain a man who refused to drop his weapon while approaching the officers. The man is being treated in a hospital for a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Both of the men are tentatively suspected of violent resistance to a public official. The Office of the Prosecutor General will determine whether or not the use of firearms was justified in both of the cases.

It is very uncommon for a police officer to use their firearm in Finland. The Police University College has conducted a survey indicating that police officers used – that is, drew or discharged – their service firearm only 385 times in 2003–2013. The number of bullets discharged was 122, according to the survey.

The annual number of such incidents has varied between 26 and 44.

Police officers are only allowed to use their service firearm in situations that pose an immediate threat to the life or well-being of an individual and if all other attempts to resolve the situation have failed, according to instructions issued by the Ministry of the Interior.

Jussi Huhtela, the head of the operational command centre at the Helsinki Police Department, reminded on Sunday that violent acts by individuals continue to pose the highest threat to public safety in Finland.

He also pointed out that the debate surrounding the incidents would likely have veered to terrorism if one of the perpetrators had been an immigrant. “Why is that?” he asked on Twitter. “What is relevant is not religion or nationality but that we prevent social alienation and identify potentially dangerous individuals.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Photo: Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva

Read other crime news of Helsinki.

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