Stability Police Units (SPUs) are specialized police that train and deploy together in groups of approximately 140 personnel. They help fill the “security gap” between military troops and civilian police in a peace operation. SPUs are an important capability that can provide policing support in post-conflict peace operation mission areas characterized by the absence of law and order. While SPUs such as the UN's Formed Police Units (FPU), NATO's Multinational Specialized Units (MSU), Italy's Carabinieri and France's Gendarmerie may be defined differently by individual countries and organizations, all possess similar skills and combine the capabilities of military troops and traditional civilian police. These proficiencies include riot control, VIP security, border security, election security, prison security, operations against organized crime, and high-risk patrolling.
Representatives from COESPU and UNDPKO present diplomas to officers at the first COESPU graduation, December 2005.
To help address the critical global need for additional and better trained SPUs, and as a result of the G8 Sea Island Action Plan Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations, Italy established the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (COESPU), an international training center in Vicenza, Italy. U.S. support to COESPU includes providing the Deputy Director of COESPU and financial support for COESPU activities. COESPU plans to train approximately 3,000 stability police trainers by 2010. The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO) recognizes the important role COESPU plays in their efforts to provide SPUs to current and future missions; the UN and COESPU regularly conduct collaboration and coordination.
To follow up with graduates after their return to their home countries, COESPU also conducts mobile assistance teams (MATs) to provide additional advisory and technical training assistance for COESPU graduates. Sustained implementation of a "train-the-trainer" approach for SPUs should result in more capable and effective stability police forces that can respond to the growing requirements of worldwide peace operations.