In his special statement to Parliament regarding the phone hacking scandal, David Cameron promised to "sort this problem out" with a range of measures to fight corruption and restore trust in the police, politicians and the power of the media.
But in the rush to put things right, the Prime Minister risks damaging a British institution.
Mr Cameron posed the questions: "Why should all police officers have to start at the same level? Why should not someone with a different skill set be able to join the police force in a senior rank?"
There are very good reasons why.
For one thing, senior police officers understand the people they lead. They have been constables, sergeants and inspectors, which is not only a vital qualification but means police managers are generally far better-respected than their counterparts in other careers.
They are not political appointments - they rise through the ranks by doing their jobs well (and passing exams as far as inspector level, after which promotions are decided by interview panels).
The system also makes the police uniquely meritocratic - a genuine vehicle for the talented from any walk of life to excel. This not only ensures the quality of top officers, but virtually guarantees that jobs cannot be reserved for the well-connected. If someone from the Bullingdon Club wants to be a chief constable, he must be prepared to keep the peace outside a nightclub in the pouring rain at 2am.
Senior officers make life and death decisions and they need the respect of their juniors and knowledge of working on the streets to get them right. At present, everyone from PC to Chief Constable is a "warranted officer" with certain powers and responsibilities - but under Mr Cameron's plan, we could see a new breed of Chief Inspectors and Superintendants who do not know how to make an arrest, interview a suspect or prepare a file for court.
Though some argue forcing people to start as PCs discourages exceptional candidates, the smart and determined can climb the ladder quite rapidly - and our constabularies can do without those who are not prepared to touch the bottom rung.
Recent revelations about police corruption have been shocking, but one piece of evidence does not prove a case. Our police forces are rigorously scrutinised and their level of independence from politicians and politics is thankfully high. Letting people join at senior level would erode this and introduce more politics and nepotism.
A wide-ranging review of police pay and conditions started last year and will no doubt be affected by the frenzy over phone hacking. No-one will dispute Mr Cameron's call for "greater transparency and stronger corporate governance" in the police, but taking control from officers who know the beat and giving it to professional managers is not the way to do it.
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