Two Decades of Estonian Police and the (Ir)relevance of Police Models for the Development of Safety Policy

Priit Suve, Peeter Selg, Georg Sootla


Police models are designed to improve safety in society. Although Estonia has not deliberately used any (combination of) police models for developing its policies of safety and its police reforms since the country regained independence, its safety has improved considerably during the last couple of decades. The scholarly discussions about police models are overwhelmingly about the possible effects of different models on safety management and about their application to particular countries. However, countries like Estonia with no consistent conceptions of police have received little attention in academic literature. We aim to fill this gap by analysing the developments of the Estonian police in its philosophical, strategic, tactical and organisational dimensions over the period between 1991 and 2013. The analysed materials include the official police development plans, legislation, statutes, training programs and statistics about the police. Our analysis shows that although safety in Estonia has improved considerably, developments of the Estonian police are characterised by internal discrepancies and inconsistencies. In view of this, we put forth some hypotheses for further studies regarding policy development in a situation where policy is not explicitly stated or where organisational reforms are seen not as “simple” or “complex” problems, but as “wicked” problems.


community policing, police reform, Estonia, wicked problems

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