Message for Orange County gangbangers: Wave to the camera. Now go to the police station and sell your gun.

Message for Orange County gangbangers: Wave to the camera. Now go to the police station and sell your gun.

The county is about to launch a two-pronged, anti-crime program that gives the Cities of Newburgh, Middletown and Port Jervis $50,000 each to expand their surveillance camera networks and pay residents for guns they turn in.

Details of the gun buyback program will be announced Thursday. But the general concept is that anyone with an unwanted gun — illegal or otherwise — may drop it off at the police department in exchange for cash or a gift certificate — without facing criminal charges for illegal gun possession.

Critics argue that such programs, while politically popular, do little to disarm thugs. Supporters counter that getting any guns out of circulation prevents them from harming someone or falling into the wrong hands.

The Port Jervis Common Council is set to vote today on an agreement with the county to spend up to $40,000 of its share of the money on three cameras and the rest on buying back guns. The city already has four cameras in use.

Police in all three cities, in fact, have deployed cameras in recent years to monitor high-crime areas and zoom in on accident and crime scenes. Middletown already has 12 and is installing another four.

Newburgh, which has the most gun crime of the three cities, plans to devote all of its share of the county money to gun buybacks.

Violent offenses involving firearms plummeted in Newburgh last year, but are climbing in 2007. Fourteen of the 90 violent crimes in Newburgh through April 23 of this year involved guns, compared with four in the same period last year, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Middletown, meanwhile, had 45 violent crimes through April 23, down from 60 in that period in 2006; guns were used in five incidents both years. Port Jervis' violent crimes have dropped to three from six; none involved firearms.

A gun buyback program that began in Washington, D.C., last year offers $100 for assault rifles and semiautomatic pistols; $50 for revolvers, rifles and shotguns; and $10 for BB guns. The city had an earlier initiative that pulled in 6,253 firearms in a little over a year.

Boston, meanwhile, also renewed its gun buyback program last year, with one major change. Rather than pay $50 a gun — money that some sellers reportedly used to buy themselves better guns — the city now hands out $200 Target gift cards.

Reporter Ashley Kelly contributed to this story.