Elite armed gardaí are beginning work today as part of a new regional strategy to tackle shootings and hostage situations.
The 24-officer squad, which will have its own uniforms and vehicles, will provide instant back-up to frontline gardaí.
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has said the RSU will enhance the service they provide to communities through a multi-purpose and well equipped group of personnel.
It is the first of five Regional Support Units (RSU) which were pledged in the Gardaí’s 2008 Policing Plan.
The southern unit covering Cork City, Cork North, Cork West, Kerry and Limerick will initially operate as a pilot and be reviewed on a continuing basis.
“The RSU will be available to provide support to other Garda units engaged in frontline policing in the event of a critical incident such as a hostage situation or firearms incident,” a Garda spokesman said.
RSU officers have undergone 13-week training period which included instruction in resolution/negotiation techniques, tactical driving, first aid and the use of firearms and less lethal weapons.
RSU officers will patrol as regular uniform gardaí but when a potentially violent situation occurs they will change into tactical gear and will have access to firearms and less lethal weapons, similar to the Emergency Response Unit (ERU).
Each RSU will comprise 24 hand-picked officers, including supervisors.
However, strengths can be increased if deemed necessary.
A basic RSU patrol will consist of two or three officers in a specially adapted marked patrol car.