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Airport police: You can always ask us for help

Article published
17.11.2014 at 09:00
Two police officers at Helsinki Airport.
An airport is a challenging working environment where basic competence in police work is not enough, say Kari Rantala and Jukka Mikkola, who are responsible for the operation of the Police at the airport.

The organisational reform carried out last year across the Police force transferred the police service point at the airport to be under the jurisdiction Police Department of eastern Uusimaa. Previously, the airport police unit was part of the National Traffic Police, which was disbanded at the end of 2013.

Despite the changes, the Police services at the airport continue, Kari Rantala, chief of the Police Department of eastern Uusimaa, and Jukka Mikkola, the chief of the airport police, assure.

– It is important to us that Police services at Finland's largest airport are of high quality and meet requirements. This service point can never be closed, says chief Kari Rantala.

The airport police has 36 employees. Recently an idea of rotating tasks has been presented at the Police Department of eastern Uusimaa. It would mean that police officers from other regions of Uusimaa would also work at the airport.

– Of course it is clear that the airport is a challenging special environment where basic competence in police work is not enough. There are still many issues that have not been resolved, but the idea is that this kind of task rotation would allow a larger number of police officers to secure the airport, says Jukka Mikkola, chief inspector of the Police's airport unit.

According to Finavia's estimates, passenger volumes at Helsinki Airport will steadily increase and reach 20 million by 2020. The passenger volume at Helsinki Airport in 2013 was 15 million. According to Rantala, the Police are prepared for the increase and to allocate resources accordingly.

Training for the ring rail line

Security issues are relevant at the airport every day. Every now and then there is a break from the everyday routines of the airport police during, for example, state visits, and sometimes the officers even personally meet leaders. The goal is to show that the Police in Finland can be trusted and things run smoothly. The airport police also participate in the travel arrangements of the President of the Republic and even the ministers.

On occasion, the darker side of life is also visible at the airport. When crimes, deaths or different disturbances occur at the airport, the Police are there to take care of the situation – often in cooperation with other actors operating in the airport.

The airport is constantly changing. When work at the first site is complete, work at the second site will begin and work at the third site will be planned. Great changes, such as the ring rail line that will start operation in 2015, will also affect Police operation.

– Our staff is being trained to work in the rail line environment. We prepare for the different side effects of the rail line in cooperation with other authorities and private security companies, but we do not view them as significant security risks. The trains will mostly carry air passengers and airport staff anyway, Rantala says.

Different scenarios are being practiced within individual organisations and in larger SAR exercises that usually focus on accident scenarios related to aviation. The tsunami in Southeast Asia ten years ago was one of the real situations where the things learned during these exercises were tested.

– The tsunami of 2004 was a psychologically tough situation for the Police as well. We were coordinating the return of passengers from the disaster area at Helsinki Airport. We encountered many touching stories that brought tears to the eyes of even the most hard-bitten officer, Mikkola says.

The Police have a clear message for everyone working at the airport or visiting there.

– You can always ask us for help. We all can participate in ensuring the security of the airport, which is the most important thing, chief Kari Rantala summarises.

Did you know?

  • Police has operated at Helsinki Airport since 1952 when the airport started operation.
  • Until 1998 the Police inspected passports at the border. In 1998, the Finnish Border Guard assumed the duties.
  • The most well known Police service might be located at Lentäjäntie 1, where the Police grants temporary express passports for passengers who have, for example, forgotten their passport at home when in a hurry. The Police's office also has facilities for taking a photograph for the temporary passport. For other matters related to passports it is recommended to contact the police department of your own area.

Airport police contact information