British politicians and law enforcers are bristling at the idea that an American might have viable ideas on how to address their nation's policing problems.
But it was painfully obvious after last week's rampant riots and looting that traditional British methods aren't doing the job. Maybe it's time for something new.
Prime Minister David Cameron is wise to seek the advice of William Bratton, former police commissioner in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, on how to tighten procedures and instill greater respect for police authority.
Cameron also correctly identified the roots of the problem in what he termed Britain's decaying moral fiber. Other ingredients will sound familiar to regular readers of these editorial pages: a lack of parental involvement and a failure to address the root causes of youth criminal behavior.
Our two nations also confront a potent new element of urban mayhem: flash-mob organization via cellphones and social networks.
Considering these shared challenges, the United States and Britain have lots to learn from each other, and both should embrace opportunities to expand the problem-solving dialogue.
There are, however, fundamental differences in the ways the two nations' police forces fight crime.
Former Garland police Officer Ben Johnson outlined several major differences in late 2005 after serving three years as a U.K. police constable and witnessing firsthand many of the constraints law enforcers face on the streets there.
He created a national uproar in Britain after going public with his critique.
Foremost was that only a few select British officers are allowed to carry firearms.
As a result, armed lawbreakers hold a distinct advantage in any confrontation with officers walking a beat, Johnson said.
"I had thought the British police would be trained and equipped to match the level of force that they would be up against.
That's not the reality," he told this newspaper. Johnson also was taken aback by procedural restrictions that, in one case, forced him to let a detained suspect walk away even though the suspect was wanted for shooting another man in the head.
Hugh Orde, president of the U.K. Association of Chief Police Officers, points to the high rate of murder, gun violence and gang activity in the United States. If anything, he and others say, experts such as Bratton need to focus on America's problems rather than telling Britons how to solve theirs.
He couldn't be more wrong. Bratton shook up law enforcement in New York and is credited with dramatically reducing crime rates while improving respect for officers on the streets. U.K. law enforcers have settled into a comfortable but ineffective crime-fighting format that cries for change. Last week's riots made clear that it's time for a fresh perspective.