1917-1920Post-turmoil policing

Model replica of the State Police School, which was located in the Palmstierna Bastion on Susisaari, one of the islands of the Fortress of Suomenlinna. The first national police school was established on a provisional basis in Helsinki in the autumn of 1918, hosted by the Helsinki Police Department. The following summer, the school was moved to the Fortress of Suomenlinna, where it stayed until 1961. The State Police School provided training for constables and commanding officers alike, but most constables were trained by the provincial authorities and the Mobile Police Detachment. Well into the 1960s, it was still possible to begin working as a junior constable without any training whatsoever, but after working for a while one was expected to attend a provincial course in order to become a senior constable. Image: Police University College /Paula Huvinen.

Finnish independence was declared on 6.12.1917. Already in January the following year, a civil war erupted between competing guards: socialist “Reds” and bourgeois “Whites”. In May, the Whites emerged victorious and harshly punished the losing Left with confinement in prison camps. The nation remained politically divided.

During the pre-independence periods of russification (1899–1905 and 1908–1917), police officers had been in a difficult position as the orders from the Russian Emperor had been in conflict with what Finns considered justified and in accord with the rule of law. In newly-independent Finland, the police had to find a new position and role in society, no longer simply following imperial orders but primarily upholding public order and preventing crimes.

During the early years of Finnish independence, the training of new constables was provisional, and police wages were relatively low. The Investigating Central Police was established in 1919, mainly to counter the illegal Communist Party of Finland. Illegal crossing of the Soviet border was common. Russian immigrants were kept under keen surveillance, and the movements of separatists on the Åland Islands were likewise kept an eye on.

The first police uniform of independent Finland. This uniform was introduced in the autumn of 1918. It was initially designed by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, a leading artist of Finnish National Romanticism, but it was his son Jorma who completed the design. The uniform was, however, by many considered to be impractical and lacking in style. The flawed design was caused by several factors. It must be noted that the uniform had been adopted in a hurry, and, above all, under the lack of material resources following the First World War in general and the Finnish Civil War in particular.

Early police dogs. Finland’s first police dog, Hektor von der Volmeburg of Germany, joined the Helsinki Police Department in May 1909. Hektor served for almost a decade until dying in 1919, by then having won several police dog competitions both in Finland and abroad.

The Civil War of 1918 put an end to all ongoing work with police dogs, but training and breeding was resumed in the spring of 1919, when a national centre for police dogs was established at Vuoksenniska in Imatra. The police dog training was moved to Hämeenlinna in 1920.

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