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Finland works hard to remain ‘happiest country in the world’

The United Nations has named Finland the happiest country in the world for the fourth consecutive year. Finland’s great education system is one of the reasons for its success. However, I’m focusing on another important factor that makes Finland the happiest country in the world. That factor is the Finnish police, who are greatly responsible for also making Finland the sixth safest country in the world.

The timing of this topic could not have been any better. On Monday, the FBI, DEA, Europol, and local police forces from 16 different countries, conducted the biggest ever law enforcement operation against encrypted communication. The law enforcement agencies developed an encrypted device company, ANOM, which became an extremely popular way of communication for over 300 criminal syndicates. 27 million obtained messages led to the arrest of 800 suspects, seizure of 32 tons of drugs, 250 firearms, 55 luxury vehicles, and $48 million in various worldwide currencies and cryptocurrencies.

Finland was just one of those countries involved in this international operation. Considering how safe Finland is, this was highly unusual. Almost 100 of the arrested suspects came from Finland. Finnish authorities seized dozens of weapons, 500 kilos of drugs, and hundreds of thousands of euros in cash. In addition to this, The Finnish Police discovered 3D printers from my hometown, Tampere, that were used for manufacturing gun parts.

What makes this operation so rare, is the fact that organized crime is still on a pretty low level in Finland. Organized crime in Finland consists of approximately 70 groups and 750 members. A large portion of these groups, about 80%, are drug related. It’s been hard for the Finnish Police to prove some of the groups guilty of organized crime. This has been the case with motorcycle clubs such as Outlaws MC, Hells Angels, and Bandidos, that are originally from the United States.

When it comes to even more serious crimes, 57 negligent homicides and 33 murders were committed in Finland last year. In addition to this, there was 36 attempted murders and 363 attempted homicides.

Finnish authorities think that COVID-19 has made the numbers higher than in the previous years. When the bars got closed, people started drinking at home and there was no one who would intervene if a fight escalated. This is something that is really common in Finland, even without COVID-19. A typical Finnish homicide or murder happens under the influence, and the weapon of choice is a knife. Offender and victim usually know each other, and they are both middle-aged men. Unemployment and alcoholism are also often connected to homicides and murders.

Despite the fact that homicides and murders are not usually committed with a firearm, guns are still quite popular in Finland. Statistics reveal that Finland’s firearm rate, 32.4 per 100 people, is the 10th highest in the world and the fourth highest in Europe. But even though there are 1.5 million registered firearms and 600,000 license holders, guns are rarely meant for personal protection. The large majority of firearms are owned by hunters, which is why handguns aren’t popular. Therefore, it is easy to connect the dots between a typical murder weapon, a knife, and the shooting incidents that the police is involved in. Between the years 2000 and 2019, only nine people were shot to death by the Finnish Police. On the other hand, since 1998, only two police officers have been killed in the line of duty.

To me, it is interesting how Finland is the sixth safest country in the world. To be more specific, it is interesting how crimes such as homicides and murders are so rare. The fear of long prison sentences definitely isn’t the reason for that. A life sentence in Finland is approximately 14 years and four months, on average. So, maybe Finns, the happiest people in the world, have just figured it out what it takes to live in harmony.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Roni Salmenkangas is a student athlete at Ferris State University, majoring in sports communication. For the most part, Roni’s stories focus on Finnish culture and people. He is completing his internship from Tampere, Finland.

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