Being labelled a pipeline and gateway to illegal gun and drug smuggling could hurt Windsor's reputation, says one municipal affairs expert.

Cheryl Collier says the recent arrests and gun seizures made in Windsor during a provincial crackdown on gang activity could change the way people perceive Windsor.

Eleven warrants were executed and nine people were arrested in Windsor during the sweep.

"Something like this undoes a lot of the careful work and long-term effort that’s been done to change the perception," Collier said. "Something like this that feeds a long standing perception that local politicians and people in the tourism have been trying to counter public ideas about what Windsor is and put more of a flavour in people’s head that Windsor’s more of a world class city."

That's what Mayor Eddie Francis has been trying to do. He's landed the International Children's Games and a swimming world championship.

Collier called the events "a great strategy."

The other way to change perception is to invest in policing.

"Major investments in policing can have positive impacts on people’s perception of whether or not the city is safe," she said.

But that's a tough sell locally, Collier said, mainly because policing is one of the most expensive items in a municipal budget.

"If you live here and know it’s safe, you might not see the need to do that," Collier said. "But the end goal might be to reach the folks that don’t live in town."

A safer city — even if it's only perceived as such — could mean more visitors and more investment, Collier said.

"Crime is one thing that will stop people coming to a place for tourism," Collier said.

Cheryl Collier is a professor of political science at the University of Windsor. She can be be heard on the Early Shift with Tony Doucette at 8:14 a.m. on Mondays. Tune in to 97.5 FM or listen live online at www.cbc.ca/windsor.

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