The latest police corruption scandal concerning the head of the Helsinki police drug squad, sheds light on two matters: Our naivety as a society about institutional corruption, and the extent of other issues like ethnic profiling by the police.
Police corruption is nothing abnormal since it exists everywhere. What is abnormal, however, is believing that our police are immune to corruption. It’s exactly that type of wishful thinking that permits corruption to find fertile ground to grow.
The Helsinki police drug squad chief facing bribery and conflict-of-interest charges is Jari Aarnio, who has naturally denied any wrongdoing.
According to YLE, citing Helsingin Sanomat, the charged policeman is suspected of having links with criminal organizations and a tracking device company, Trevoc, whose services are used by the police and Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo).
Let’s go for a moment back to a story that Migrant Tales published in 2012. After the Ombudsman for Minorities got a number of complaints by people who claimed they were stopped by the police due to their ethnic background, Christian Democrat Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen and the police stated flatly that no ethnic profiling happens in Finland.
Such an absolute claim is highly revealing since it suggests the opposite: ethnic profiling happens more often than we want to admit.
In many respects, it’s the same attitude that must have fueled the latest police corruption scandal. Denying that something doesn’t happen offers an opportunity to abuse the system and laws.
David Burnham, a former New York Times writer, states in the 1970s: “While almost all cops take free meals [in the United States], the idea of getting a break is the platform, the launching pad, from which the bad guys spring. A policeman who commits these acts does so for the same reason that others are thieves – inclination and opportunity.”
“Getting a free meal” can also mean turning a blind eye or playing down a problem like ethnic profiling. It is the launching pad to other abuse by the police of people like immigrants and visible minorities.