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Top Boston cop says local authorities weren't told about FBI's Tsarnaev probe

NBC News

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis testifies in front on the Homeland Security Committee on May 9, 2013

Authorities in Boston knew nothing about the request from Russia for information about deceased suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev or about his subsequent trips to the country, the city's police commissioner told lawmakers Thursday at the first Congressional hearing on the Marathon bombings.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis told Congress that none of the four people assigned to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force knew about Tsarnaev's trip to Russia or that the FBI had investigated the 26-year-old in 2011.

Davis told the House Homeland Security Committee that, in hindsight, he "certainly" would have wanted to know about the suspected bombers trips.

But asked if Boston police would have done anything differently had they known the information, Davis said it is unclear.

"We would certainly look at the information. We would certainly talk to the individual," he said. "From the information I've received, the FBI did that and they closed the case out. I can't say that I would have come to a different conclusion based upon the information that was known at that particular time."

Committee chair Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said more hearings will be held to review how information was shared before the bombing and how future attacks can be prevented. However on Thursday, no one from the federal government was present to testify.

In the first congressional hearing on the Boston bombings many questions remain unanswered, such as why the FBI didn't involve Boston's law enforcement when assessing whether or not Tamlerlan Tsarnaev was a terrorist threat. The FBI investigated Tsarnaev two years ago after receiving a tip from Russian authorities. NBC's Pete Williams reports

Former Senator Joe Lieberman, who testified as an expert due to his former chairmanship of the Senate's Homeland Security Committee, called it a missed opportunity.

"Why didn't they involve the local law enforcers, who could have stayed on this case and picked up signals?" he asked.  

Lieberman said that, had local authorities known, they may have gotten tips from those who knew Tsarnaev or his brother, Dzhokhar, as they became more and more extreme in their views.

Davis says he does not know whether any members of a local mosques that Tamerlan Tsarnaev belonged to called in  any tips after pictures of the bombing suspects were made public. None of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's classmates at UMass Dartmouth called in a tip, he said.

Congressional hearings examines possible intelligence failures leading up to the Boston Marathon bombing. NBC News' Steve Handelsman reports.

The police chief also called for increased security at public events, like more security cameras, undercover police and special police units. However, David was quick to add that the public's privacy should also be taken into account.

"We do not, and cannot, live in a protective enclosure because of the actions of extremists who seek to disrupt our way of life," Davis said.