SIAS: An elite police unit of Romania

Author: Eric Sof

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The Independent Unit for Special Interventions and Actions, known as SIAS, is Romania’s premier special police unit. Established in 1995, it originally operated within the Brigade of Countering Organized Crime of the Romanian police. SIAS is composed of highly-trained individuals who work as a team. Today, it is part of the European group of special units known as ATLAS.

Organization

As the primary special unit of the Romanian police, the SIAS is divided into two main components:

  • The Department for Special Interventions and Actions is responsible for carrying out specific methods and procedures to capture dangerous criminals or individuals armed with firearms and freeing hostages, kidnapped, or sequestered persons. They are highly trained for these tasks.
  • The Pyrotechnic Department is responsible for handling explosive and incendiary devices.

The Department for Special Interventions and Actions’ primary duty is the intervention through specific methods and proceedings for catching hazardous criminals or armed with firearms, freeing hostages, and kidnapped or sequestered persons. They are highly trained for these tasks.

Their roles include seizing and neutralizing dangerous or armed criminals and handling hostage crises. SIAS also helps to rescue people in disasters in any area of the country in cooperation with the aviation unit of the Ministry of Administration and Interior.

Their members pass special training with tactics and firearms for executing these actions against organized crime. Like all other SWAT teams, they are trained to use various weapons, including pistols, submachine guns, and shotguns. They also use specialized equipment like breaching doors and explosive demolition charges.

SIAS special police unit from Romania
The SIAS operator brandishing his weapon (Photo: Romania Police)

Training and selection

The SIAS unit comprises the best officers from all of Romania’s rapid intervention formations (DIAS) and consists of three detachments, each with 30 men. Two of the detachments are located in Bucharest. The SIAS comprises members who are carefully selected for their exceptional abilities. Athletes, world champions, and experienced psychologists are brought together to form this elite service.

Selection

Recruitment is a rigorous process led by a team of experienced officers. It involves identifying police officers and agents with the physical skills and professional abilities required for this type of activity, who possess a high degree of adaptability and concentration, an excellent ability to comprehend, analyze, and act lucidly, quickly, and correctly in crises. The following eliminatory tests are included in the recruitment process:

  • Psychological test for special units;
  • Medical test;
  • Specific physical test;
  • Testing the shooting skills with weapons from SIAS equipment;
  • Training and adaptation course organized within SIAS.

Training

After completing the basic training, the SIAS operators are assigned to the intervention detachments and are on probation for another six months. During this time, they participate in the unit’s missions and undergo an intensive training program that aims to achieve and maintain a perfect physical, technical, and tactical form, which corresponds to the unit’s needs for multipurpose use.

SIAS operators typically use live ammunition in their training sessions, a reminder of the deadly nature of their work. There is no room for mistakes, whether in training or on a real mission.

SIAS operators train daily, with their typical workday lasting for eight hours. The day usually begins with gym training, which is intense even for a performance athlete but is mandatory for any SIAS member. This is followed by long runs, hand-to-hand combat, rappelling from and into buildings or helicopters, and daily shooting sessions with all the weapons in their arsenal.

SIAS operators at the shooting range
Romania’s SIAS operator during shooting practice at the unit’s shooting range (Photo: Romanian Police)

Equipment

The unit is equipped with the most modern Western weapons and equipment to ensure they can complete their mission effectively. This includes Glock 17 handguns, HK MP5 submachine guns, Steyr SSG rifles, and other advanced equipment such as body armor, night vision goggles, and breaching tools. The unit also has access to various transportation options, including helicopters and armored vehicles, to ensure they can quickly and safely reach their objective. The unit is also continuously updating and upgrading its equipment to stay ahead of any potential threats.

Pyrotechnic Department of SIAS

The Pyrotechnic Department’s primary duty is to intervene through specific methods and procedures to prevent and counter crimes involving improvised explosive devices or booby-trapped vehicles in public or private places. It also identifies, neutralizes, and destroys specific improvised explosive devices and conventional ammunition elements discovered in public or private homes.

Operations

Since its inception, SIAS has conducted dozens of operations within Romania. Recently, at the end of last year, SIAS operators were involved in the arrest of controversial online influencer Andrew Tate. Tate was arrested in Romania as part of an investigation into human trafficking and rape. According to authorities, Tate allegedly created an organized crime group to recruit, house, and exploit women by forcing them to create pornographic content intended for specialized websites for profit.

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