Garda Regional Support Unit
|Garda Regional Support Unit
Aonad Tacaíochta Réigiúnach
|Formed||2008 (pilot), 2012 (full)|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Republic of Ireland|
|Legal jurisdiction||Eastern, Northern, Southern, South-Eastern and Western regions|
|Governing body||Department of Justice and Equality|
|Agency executive||Regional Detective Superintendent|
|Parent agency||Garda Síochána|
|Specialties||Specialist armed response|
|Vehicles||Volvo XC70 Armed response vehicle|
Regional Support Units (RSU) (Irish: Aonad Tacaíochta Réigiúnach) are specialist armed response units of the Garda Síochána, the national police force of Ireland. Based in five regions in the country, Garda RSU officers carry a combination of lethal firearms and non-lethal weapons, as opposed to regular uniformed Gardaí who are unarmed. They are similar to Authorised Firearms Officers of British police forces.
An armed Garda Regional Support Unit may be called out to support local Garda officers in certain high-risk operations. This principally involves offering armed assistance to otherwise unarmed Gardaí who are dealing with an incident in which firearms or other weapons (knives, etc.) have been produced. It also includes;
- Confronting and disarming persons who were carrying knives or guns
- Saving a person's life through use of a defibrillator which they are qualified to use
- Providing tactical support to other gardai carrying out searches
- Carrying out high visibility static checkpoints and other operations to counteract the movements of criminals
The first Regional Support Unit (RSU) was formed in 2008, followling the recommendations of the Barr Tribunal, which brought the existence and role of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) to public attention (April 2000, see Death of John Carthy), and questioned the Dublin based units' ability to reach other areas of the country quickly.
Regional Support Units are assigned to support five individual Garda regions - administrative areas drawn on geographical lines which include the Eastern, Northern, Southern, South-Eastern and Western regions, but not the Dublin Metropolitan Region, which remains the responsibility of the ERU. The first RSU was formed on a pilot basis in the Southern Region (the administrative area which includes counties Cork, Limerick and Kerry).
As of 2012, RSU units began operating on a full-time armed basis in the Eastern, Northern, Southern, South-Eastern and Western regions after a trial period. Serious incidents such as barricaded sieges, hostage takings or terrorism triggers the response of the ERU anywhere in Ireland.
Training and manpower
Garda 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
- Dynamic entry methods
- Tactical driving
- First aid
- Use of less lethal options & firearms
- Other relevant skills.
Some RSU officers later go on to join the ERU. The membership of the Regional Support Unit consists exclusively of serving officers in the Garda Síochána, who must have at least 4 years experience and a clean disciplinary record.
RSU weapons include;
- Heckler & Koch MP7 submachine gun (with ammunitition that penetrates body armour)
- Benelli M4 Super 90 semi-automatic shotgun
- SIG Sauer P226 9mm self-loading pistol
RSU units also carry less-lethal weapons, such as;
Regional Support Units use a police variant Volvo V70, known as a Volvo XC70 as their Armed response vehicle (ARV). 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". Volvo V70 T5 vehicles and armour plated BMW X5 vehicles are also in use.
- Headquarters Mobile Support Unit (Police Service of Northern Ireland)
- Specialist Firearms Command (Metropolitan Police Service)
- Specialist Firearms Officer
- Authorised Firearms Officer
- "Groups of uniformed gardai to be fully armed in shake-up". Irish Independent. 1 January 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
- 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
- "National Rollout of Regional Support Units Complete May 9th 2012 - South Eastern Region Unit Launched". 9 May 2012. An Garda Síochána. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- 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 video - Armed garda response units operating
- Irish Independent - Commuter-belt garda squad to carry new armour-piercing submachine gun - 30 August 2009