Regional Support Unit
Garda Regional Support Units (Irish: Aonad Tacaíochta Réigiúnach an Gharda Síochána) are specialised armed units of the Garda Síochána - the police force of Ireland. Similar to the firearms units of British police forces, these Garda units carry a combination of lethal and less-lethal weapons.
The first Regional Support Unit (RSU) was formed in 2008 after the recommendations of the Barr Tribunal brought the Emergency Response Unit's existence and role to public attention, and questioned the Dublin based unit's ability to reach other areas of the country quickly.
Regional Support Units are assigned to support individual Garda regions - administrative areas drawn on geographical lines which include the Eastern, Northern, Southern, South-Eastern and Western regions. The first RSU was formed on a pilot basis in the Southern Region (the administrative area which includes Cork, Limerick and Kerry). Other units have subsequently been established or planned for the Eastern, Western and Northern Regions.
An armed Regional Support Unit may be called-in to support local Garda Síochána in certain high-risk operations. This principally involves offering armed assistance to otherwise unarmed Gardaí who are dealing with an incident in which firearms have been produced. It may also include:
- Armed response in anti-criminal operations
- Execution of high-risk warrants and searches, including forced entry
- Regional specialised patrols
Training and manpower
RSU officers undergo training over a thirteen week period, which includes instruction in critical incident response; tactical deployment; conflict resolution/negotiation techniques; deployment protocols & controls; entry methods; tactical driving; first aid; the use of less lethal options & firearms and other relevant skills.
The membership of the Regional Support Unit consists exclusively of serving officers in the Garda Síochána. Each Regional Support Unit has 24 members. The command of the RSU is the Regional Detective Superintendent.
Members of the RSU are equipped similarly to members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit. RSU weapons include the Heckler & Koch MP7, and Benelli M4 Super 90 and SIG Sauer P226 pistols. RSU units also carry less-lethal weapons such as Taser, Pepper Spray and Bean bag round.
Regional Support Units use a police variant Volvo XC70 (a variant of the V70) as their Armed Response Vehicle. These cars are specially modified and clearly identifiable from other Garda vehicles by battenburg markings, the word "GARDA" written in large blue letters, and the words "ARMED SUPPORT UNIT" in red lettering. Each car has a blue bar light on the roof with a message scroller bearing the term "GARDA ARMED SUPPORT UNIT".
- Garda Press office - Garda Commissioner launches Regional Support Units - 2/09/08
- RTE News - New armed garda unit for midlands - 28 August 2009
- Irish Independent - Quick-change armed Gardai hit the streets - 04 September 2008
- Annual Report of An Garda Síochána - 2008
- Annual Report of An Garda Síochána - 2009
- Irish Times - Garda armed response unit launched for eastern region - 8 August 2009
- Department of Justice - Press Releases - Justice Minister Dermot Ahern launches New Garda Response Unit in Western Region - 25 June 2010
- Donegal Division Policing Plan of An Garda Síochána - 2010
- RTE News - Armed garda response units operating - 3 September 2008
- Garda Press office - Searches in the Shannon and Limerick areas - 16/10/08
- Irish Independent - New armed garda squad to take on city gang bosses - 22 September 2007
- RTE News video - Armed garda response units operating
- Irish Independent - Commuter-belt garda squad to carry new armour-piercing submachine gun - 30 August 2009