The Independent Unit for Special Interventions and Actions, or just SIAS, is Romania’s special police unit. It began its activity in 1995 within the Brigade of Countering Organized Crime of Romanian police. They are highly trained individuals who work as a team. The SIAS is abbr. for Serviciul Independent de Interventii si Actiuni Speciale.
Today, they are part of the European group of special units ATLAS.
Organization and main responsibilities
As the primary special unit in Romanian police, the SIAS is divided into the two main components:
- The Department for Special Interventions and Actions.
- Pyrotechnic Department.
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, kidnapped, or sequestered persons. They are highly trained for these tasks.
Its 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, firearms for executing these actions against organized crime. Like all other SWAT teams, they are trained to use various weapons, including pistols, sub-machine guns, shotguns. They also use specialized equipment like breaching doors and explosive demolition charges.
Training and selection
The SIAS unit incorporates the best officers from all Romania’s rapid intervention formations (DIAS) and comprises three detachments, 30 men each; two are located in Bucharest. The SIAS is composed of members who are hand-picked for their performances. Athletes, world champions, and experienced psychologists were wrapped together to form this service.
Recruitment is a laborious process led by a group of experienced officers and consists of identifying police officers and agents with physical skills and professional abilities 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. In this respect, the following eliminatory tests are included:
- 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.
After completing the basic training, the SIAS operators are assigned to the intervention detachments, on probation for another six months. During that time, they participate in the service’s missions and follow an intensive training program that aims to achieve and maintain a perfect physical, technical, and tactical form, which corresponds to the unit’s needs of multipurpose use.
Most of the time, SIAS operators use live ammunition in their training sessions, a grim reminder of their deadly trade. No mistakes are allowed, whether in training or a real mission.
SIAS operators train daily. Their typical working day lasts for eight hours. The day usually starts with the gym training, where operators would seem exaggerated even to a performance athlete. However, it is a must for any SIAS member. The gym training is followed by long runs, hand-to-hand combat, rappeling from and into buildings or helicopters, and daily shooting sessions with all the weapons in their arsenal.
Weaponry and Gear
Pyrotechnic Department of SIAS
The Pyrotechnic Department’s primary duty is to intervene through specific methods and proceedings to prevent and counter crimes, consisting of placing improvised explosive devices or trapping vehicles in public or private places. It also identifies, neutralizes, and destroys specific improvised explosive devices and classic ammunition elements discovered in public or private homes.