Police Rapid Response Unit (Finland)

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Finnish Police Rapid Response Unit
Emblem of the Police of Finland.svg
The sword insignia of the Police of Finland
Active 1972 – Present
Country Finland
Size 90
Garrison/HQ National Bureau of Investigation
Nickname(s) Karhukopla ("Beagle Boys")

The Police Rapid Response Unit (Finnish: Poliisin valmiusyksikkö, Swedish: Beredskapsheten) is a special operations and counter-terrorism unit of the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation. It is commonly known as the Bear Group (Finnish: Karhu-ryhmä, Swedish: Beredskapsenheten, Swedish/Finnish mixed: Karhu-gruppen).

The Bear Group was formed after the Munich massacre in 1972 to provide security for the OSCE Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe that was held in Helsinki in 1975. According to law all counter-terrorist operations belong to the Police or the Finnish Border Guard – with Finnish Defence Forces not involved in CT during peace time.

The Bear Group includes, in addition to leadership and training groups, direct action, technical, canine, and explosive disposal groups. It can also be reinforced with a negotiation group for hostage situations.

The Bear Group operates under the authority of the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation which in turn is controlled by the Ministry of Interior and is headquartered in Helsinki. Its members are all volunteers and alternate between normal NBI work and special armed duties. The group had a strength of about 90 officers in 2008. Team members are selected from currently serving NBI law enforcement agents and undergo a training of one year, followed by a continuous on-the-job training programme. They must commit to the rigorous training schedule that takes about half of their worktime; the remaining time is in regular NBI duties. Nobody may retire from the Karhu team: the contract is always temporary and on its termination, the law enforcement agent will return to regular duties.

The team's weaponry consists almost entirely of standard Finnish police weapons. It uses the H&K MP5 as its primary submachinegun along with the H&K UMP, Sig 552 as assault rifles and the Remington 870 as shotgun. The only significant difference is the use of H&K USP as personal pistol. The sniper rifles used by the group are Sako TRG -series of rifles TRG-21, TRG-42, PSG-1 and SSG 3000.

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