Emergency Garda unit to be based in SalthillJanuary 22, 2010 - 3:44pm
AN elite new, heavily-armed Garda emergency response unit – aimed at tackling serious and organised crime – is set to be unveiled in Salthill Garda Station, the Galway City Tribune can exclusively reveal.
The Western Regional Support Unit (RSU) base in Salthill will see highly-trained Gardaí patrolling the roads of Galway in ‘souped-up’ cars, armed with submachine guns, handguns and Taser weapons.
Garda Headquarters in Dublin have confirmed the launch of the new unit is “imminent”.
It will deal with serious and organised crime, as well as hostage negotiations, while also providing support to unarmed, frontline Gardaí in dangerous situations.
It is understood that around a dozen specialist Gardaí will be based in Salthill Station – although the nature of these rapid response units is that they are almost always ‘on patrol’.
They will be under the overall command of Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney, who has responsibility for the Western Region and is based in Mill Street.
A spokesperson for Garda Headquarters in Dublin confirmed the launch of the Western RSU in Salthill is imminent, but a specific date has not yet been set.
An official announcement is expected in the coming weeks as structural work is currently progressing at the station to accommodate the new unit.
All members of the Salthill unit will have undergone extensive weapons training for their Sig 9mm handguns and Heckler and Koch submachine guns, as well as Taser guns and pepper spray, which are secured in special ‘safes’ in their custom-built patrol cars.
Their ‘Police Special’ Volvo XC70 patrol cars – which feature full Garda markings – have enhanced engines, brakes, and other components designed to handle emergency driving conditions.
The high-profile officers will carry out regular policing duties, but can switch to ‘armed mode’ at a moment’s notice when called to deal with a dangerous situation.
Armed RSU officers are distinguishable by their Garda baseball caps and jackets, as well as bullet-proof vests, and they also have access to full armoured body suits.
When in ‘armed mode’, the patrol car electronic lighting and signage changes to warn that it is an ‘armed response unit’, to ensure they are clearly identifiable.
Continued on page 3 of this week’s City Tribune