Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis: No ‘magic bullet’ to stop terrorism

BOSTON , MA. 05/ 08/13: Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis will have a quick availability before heading to Washington DC to testify before the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee at Logan International Airport/US Airway Shuttle - Terminal B. ( David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 09bombcongressphoto
Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis speaking to reporters before before heading to Washington, D.C., to testify before Congress in May
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

LOWELL – On the day of the Boston Marathon, there were 854 uniformed and undercover Boston police officers assigned to patrol the three miles of the race course from Cleveland Circle to Copley Square, many with their backs to the runners, scanning the crowd for potential threats.

State Police had nearly 1,000 troopers on the course from Hopkinton to the Back Bay, and the National Guard had about 200 soldiers helping out. Boston police, with help from MBTA Transit Police officers, used specially trained dogs twice to sweep much of Boylston Street for explosives, once at 7 a.m. and then shortly before the elite runners began making their way to the finish line.

But with all the security on that pristine day in April, there was little authorities could have done to stop the Marathon bombings, Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said today at a counterterrorism forum at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he detailed the massive security presence at the race.

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There are not enough police officers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to lock down 26.2 miles of a marathon,” he said.

He added: “Everybody asks me what we could do to stop this. Do we need more cameras? Is there a computer system? Is there a piece of software to identify suspects? None of those things would work. They are all helpful, but there is no magic bullet to deal with terrorism.”

Davis, who announced Monday he plans to leave his post in coming weeks, was among several speakers at the forum who participated in the response to the Marathon bombings, which left three people dead and more than 260 injured.

The forum coincided with a poll released by UMass Lowell’s new Center for Terrorism and Security Studies that found nearly two-thirds of Americans said they are more concerned about terrorism since the Marathon bombings and think the threats have increased over the past decade.

The survey by YouGov, which last month polled 1,000 people around the country, also found a majority said they thought the United States was too involved in the affairs of other countries.