The Southeastern Finland police department announced on Thursday that it has dismissed a high-ranking officer for lack of credibility due to his extremist, far-right views.
The officer worked as a Chief Inspector at the surveillance and emergency response division in Kouvola.
The reasons behind the police officer's dismissal came to light due to a wider investigation being conducted by Finland's National Bureau of Investigation and National Prosecution Authority.
The agencies have been probing links between police personnel and far-right activities since 2020. However, the officer in question was not part of the initial investigation.
According to a press release, the Southeastern Finland police department has independently undertaken measures to curb right wing radicalism among its employees since early 2022.
Police must respect "code of conduct"
The department reportedly made its decision based on an assessment of how the officer's views could influence factors such as his ability to make decisions. It also considered the impact that the circumstances could have on public trust in law enforcement.
"At the end of the day, it's a matter of trust and suitability for police work," Ari Karvonen, chief of police at the department, stated.
According to Karvonen, police hold a position of significant influence and power in Finnish society and are therefore responsible for maintaining an ethical code of conduct, even when they are off duty.
"Our actions must conform to the law in all situations, and we must respect fundamental as well as human rights," he said.
Karvonen also stressed that public officials are terminated only on the most compelling grounds.
"At present, such grounds do exist. It is not possible to ignore actions that amount to inappropriate conduct and violation of the police code of ethics," he added.
Officer to appeal dismissal in court
According to a report by Iltalehti, the Chief Inspector intends to appeal the decision regarding his dismissal at the administrative court.
The officer claims that he was fired on the basis of a private WhatsApp conversation that took place when he was off duty.
"I find it especially insulting that they conclude that someone follows a far-right ideology based solely on a WhatsApp conversation between two people," the former employee told the newspaper, adding that he would not comment on the matter any further as it would be settled in the administrative court.
Karvonen said that the commissioner's radical right wing views were brought to the department's attention, but did not reveal how.
He stated that the officer in question was given the opportunity to comment on the issue in writing before an official decision was made.
The dismissed officer has not been charged with any crime.