Boston chief wants improved surveillance

2013-05-09 20:18
Boston Police Commissioner Edward (Chip Somodevilla, AFP)

Boston Police Commissioner Edward (Chip Somodevilla, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Boston's police commissioner on Thursday, called for heightened security at public events to help thwart terror attacks like the one that hit his city last month, but cautioned against "police-state" tactics.

In the first of a series of congressional hearings on the twin blasts that killed three people and wounded nearly 300 at the Boston Marathon, lawmakers were told that surveillance technology proved crucial to tracking down the attackers.

"Images from cameras do not lie. They do not forget," Commissioner Edward Davis told the House Homeland Security Committee, as he highlighted the role a Boston business's security video played in identifying the Tsarnaev brothers as suspects.

But he warned that the use of increasingly sophisticated surveillance technology should not be "intended to chill or stifle free speech”.

"In the future we will need to deploy more assets including technology, cameras, undercover officers and specialized units," he testified.

"This need, however, must be balanced against the protections of our constitutional liberties. I do not endorse actions that move Boston and our nation into a police state mentality, with surveillance cameras attached to every light pole in the city."

City on lockdown

The north-eastern US city was locked down after the 15 April attack, as authorities launched the largest manhunt in the region's history.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police, while his wounded younger brother Dzhokhar was taken into custody after a tipoff from a resident, who saw something suspicious in a boat parked in his backyard.

Davis said local, regional and federal coordination on security issues was vital, but nothing could replace community action.

"There's no technical means that you can point to... that's going to spit out a terrorist's name," Davis said.

"It's the community, being involved in the conversation... when something awry is identified."

Lawmakers praised the heroics of police and first responders, but also raised questions about the failure to detect Tamerlan Tsarnaev's radicalisation and the threat it posed.

"My fear is that the Boston bombers may have succeeded because our system failed," the House committee chairperson, Republican Michael McCaul, told the hearing.

Davis acknowledged that his police department was not aware of the Tsarnaev's possible radicalisation in Russia, where officials say he travelled in 2012.

"My understanding is that at no time prior to the bombing did any member of Massachusetts State Police or the [intelligence-gathering] fusion centre have any knowledge of the Tsarnaev brothers," Davis said.


McCaul said the revelation was troubling.

"The idea that the feds [FBI] have the information and it's not shared with the state and locals, defies why we created a department of homeland security in the first place."

"We can and must do better," McCaul said.

Former senator Joseph Lieberman, who worked at length on improving US security in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks, also highlighted the system's inefficiencies, saying "our homeland defence system failed in Boston”.

But he also urged authorities to more openly acknowledge what he described as a growing threat by Islamic extremists.

"Osama bin Laden is dead, and the rest of the al-Qaeda leadership is on the run, but the ideology of violent Islamic extremism is rapidly spreading," Lieberman said.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  fbi  |  osama bin laden  |  tamerlan tsarnaev  |  dzhokhar tsarnaev  |  us  |  boston explosions

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.