'Donnie Brasco' Unveils New Security Cameras

The retired undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Bonanno Crime Family is consulting for the company that developed a 360-degree camera that can be attached to a rearview mirror.

K.C. Jones, Contributor

August 23, 2005

2 Min Read

The retired undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Bonanno Crime Family will unveil one of the latest tools in the arsenal of homeland security products Wednesday.

Joe Pistone, also known as Donnie Brasco, is working as consultant for New York City-based Protect-All Security Products Inc. The company is manufacturing a 360-degree camera that can be built into, or attached to, a rearview mirror. Pistone has scheduled an appearance for a product demonstration.

The patented AV-360 comes in a one-inch square cube, which can be attached to windshields or ceilings on buses or trains. It's also available in overt and covert full-size models. Images can be transmitted to a digital video recorder, a desktop computer or a personal digital assistant.

"It will revolutionize mobile video and vehicle security," said Joseph J. Mazzilli, a former New York City police officer, who invented the camera. "Having an AV-360 in every police vehicle will prove to be an invaluable tool in terrorism investigations."

If police were to pass an area shortly before a bombing, they could immediately examine footage for leads, Mazzilli said in a statement released Tuesday.

That's no small advantage, as police in London demonstrated after subway bombings there in July. The city's 200,000 video cameras were instrumental in identifying bombers who bombed trains and a bus July 7 and in apprehending suspects in a second-failed attempt two weeks later. Police in several large U.S. cities are increasing their reliance on video surveillance for homeland security and crime prevention. Baltimore, Chicago and New York are using thousands of cameras already.

Earlier this month, Reston, Va.-based IPIX announced the deployment of 360-degree cameras and networked analytics at the Mt. Prospect, Ill. City Hall. Those cameras pan, tilt and zoom.

Protect-All's Vice President of Operations Glenn Allen said in an interview Tuesday said his company's product offers one customized for police cruisers.

"Most police cameras only face forward and are sizeable, impeding visibility," he said. "There have been accidents where visibility has been obstructed."

The AV-360 is made up of four 90-degree cameras, which overlap slightly so there are no dead spots in the camera's view. The camera records to a 120 gigabyte hard drive, which can be removed, put into a desktop computer and downloaded or linked to a local area network, Allen said.

In most states, what a suspect does in the back seat of a police cruiser can be used against them in court, so having videotape will help in cases where someone is resisting arrest or accusing a police officer of abuse. Police can switch off the interior camera when they choose.

Protect-All is a subsidiary of Assist International, which provides security services including threat assessment. Mazzilli is president of that company as well.

The product will be unveiled at the International Security Conference East in New York City (ISC)this week.

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