URNA – Czech Special Police Unit

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URNA - Czech Special Police Unit 5

Special unit of the Czech police Útvar rychlého nasazení URNA, is nowadays considered to be one of the best units of the same purpose and it represents the ultimate answer of Czech Ministry of Internal Affairs against terrorism, organized crime and other criminal activities. The Czech Republic is the state formed on disintegration of the former Czech Republic, that used to unite two national entities, Czechs and Slovakians. Right upon the independence being established, that is after a quiet separation between Czech and Slovakia, Czech Republic began adjusting to the western capitalistic standard of life and thus approaching its secure safety structures to western Europeans standards.

However, as it was the case with all former communist countries, adjusting to western standards had its repercussions. Many criminal groups immediately spotted their great chance to take advantage of the new and young democracy. Together with powerful criminal Russian groups,Czech Republic was swarmed with well organized criminal organizations from Turkey,Albania,Bulgaria,Poland, Greece and from Kosovo that fought for its territory and loot division. For the last ten years the Czech Police had to deal with Kosovo mafia,that at the moment is the best organized, most brutal and dangerous drug and prostitution mafia, with approximately 10,000 members.

That is why, Czech Republic has a unit for immediate response,founded at the time of Czechoslovakia,named Útvar rychlého nasazení, better known in western circles under the abbreviation URNA. On the request of the Socialistic Government and certain police forces, it was decided to form one police unit that would be exclusively made by specially selected, trained and equipped men. This new body would be capable to successfully oppose any criminal threats, plane hijackings, kidnapping and terrorist bombing attacks included. Such tasks were earlier under the jurisdiction of the military forces, that weren’t adequately prepared and trained for that kind of missions. In August 1981, according to the Ministry’s decree 52/1980,the unit for immediate response was formed as the most important component of the police force fight against all kinds of criminal activities. The Unit was named Direktorat and it was settled under the “Sboru národní bezpečnosti SNB” command (National security Assembly). To complete it, police force staff was recruited from military elite units too,especially from the paratroops. From1981 to 1985, a longtime process of training started and at the same time the arming of the unit began.

Automatic pistols Vz.Skorpion cal. 7,65 Browning were supplied,then assault rifles Vz.58 7,62 and sniper rifles of the Soviet manufacture SVDN-1 Dragunov (Vz.63) 7,62×54 R mm,as well as the domestic modified sniper rifle Vz. 54 7,62,shotguns,grenade launchers RV-85 cl. 26,5 and various kinds of pistols. Recognizable symbol of the unit was a red beret,that the members of the military units brought to the unit. At the beginning, the unit was intended to perform mostly actions against riots and public manifestations but soon great changes happened. Firstly, in 1985 the unit changed its name to “Odbor zvláštního určení”,meaning department for special interventions and it was put under the command of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. However, these changes negatively reflected on the unit since it was then used by Communist Czech Governement for stopping the protests and manifestations led by numerous anti-government organizations to which a big number of civilians took part; this made the unit act against them using the most cruel methods, especially in the period between 1988 and 1989. After the coup in 1989, when the communist party was removed from power, sudden changes occurred and the unit entered a new phase of its development which lead to a new philosophy.Thus, the focus was on the training for performing interventions in cases of people and vehicle kidnapping,especially against dangerous offenders and organized criminal groups. The department,in the same year, changed its name to “Jednotka rychlého zásahu Federální policejní služby – JRZ FPS”,meaning Unit for immediate interventions of Federal Police Forces. This led to the alteration of the unit’s symbol,so in November 1989 the red beret was replaced by a dark green one. Change in political orientation of the state enabled unit JRZ,in February 1990,to regain the responsibility which motivated its formation and in that same year they participated in an action of freeing hostages. Opening the Republic to the world at the same time brought changes in mentality of an approach in training of unit’s members,so that officers of the unit began to get introduced with activities of their foreign colleagues. They started to travel more abroad, and significant financial resources were invested for purchasing modern western equipment. In 1990 the name of the unit was also changed,this time to Útvar rychlého nasazení- URNA (Unit for immediate interventions) of the Czech Police Force and it is still the one in use.

ORGANIZATION AND TASKS

The main missions given to this specific police unit consist in performing charging actions that require specially trained men, equipped with sophisticated gear and arming, especially in high risk situations that could involve civilians:

  • interventions against terrorist groups, kidnappers, air pirates.
  • interventions against organized criminal groups and dangerous criminals.
  • security and protection of the high government- politics officials, both domestic and foreign,that come to visit the Czech republic.
  • securing Czech diplomatic offices worldwide.
  • repelling prison mutinies.
  • helping citizens hit by natural disasters