Davis Reflects on Bombings at UML Program Launch
By Grant Welker
LOWELL -- There is no "magic bullet" for stopping terrorism, but law enforcement can reduce the risk through better community engagement and cooperation, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said Tuesday as UMass Lowell marked the opening of its new terrorism and security program.
Law enforcement was prepared for the Boston Marathon the day of the bombing, said Davis, who was thrust into the spotlight in the days and weeks after the attack. The course was swept for bombs twice before the race, Boston had 854 officers along the course, and state police had roughly as many from Hopkinton to Boston, he said. The National Guard also provided 200 of its members.
"Everyone was out doing their jobs," Davis said.
Nothing could have stopped the attack from happening, Davis said, but he never had a doubt that the suspects would be caught because of the number of photos and video that captured the scene. No specific threat was made against the marathon that day, he said.
Davis headlined an event at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center to mark the launch of the university's Center for Terrorism and Security Studies. It also included a panel discussion from leading law-enforcement officials, including Vincent Lisi, the new special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office.
The new academic program will be led by notable new faculty, including John Horgan, who has written more than 70 publications on terrorism and political violence and who conducts research for the FBI's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. Another new professor is Mia Bloom, formerly a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
The program director, James Forest, is the former director of a terrorism studies program at the United States Military Academy. The program will focus on research and training workshops and is based at the university's new Health and Social Sciences Building.
"I cannot tell you how impressed I am this university has decided
to do something like this," Davis said.
Davis, a Lowell native and former head of the city's police department before taking the Boston job, announced this week he is leaving the Boston Police Department and leaning toward accepting a fellowship at Harvard University. His departure comes as some candidates for Boston mayor have said they wouldn't necessarily keep Davis on the job.
Lisi was appointed to head the FBI's Boston operations in July, taking the place of Richard DesLauriers, who retired two months after overseeing the agency's investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings. Davis criticized the FBI, telling Congress in the weeks after the bombings the FBI did not share with Boston police information it had on suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Terrorists have been "very innovative" in switching their focus over the years, from chemical weapons to hijacking planes to hiding bombs in shoes or underwear, Lisi said.
"What they've done is make us have exponentially more people to worry about," he said.
Davis had similar comments about terrorism at home.
"There are not enough police officers in the commonwealth of Massachusetts to lock down 26.2 miles of a marathon," he said.
Tuesday's event also included the release of a terrorism survey conducted for the school's Center for Public Opinion.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans are more concerned about a terrorist attack in the United States after the Boston Marathon bombings in April and believe the threat of terrorism has increased in the past decade, the poll found. Half said the bombings made them think the U.S. is too involved in the affairs of other countries, and only 18 percent favored the U.S. conducting airstrikes against the Syrian government for use of chemical weapons.