Predictable Surprise Predictable Surprise

Whatever prompted Al Hoffman, Bob Merrill, and Clem Watts (1950) to write the wry lyrics to “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake,” the message is clear: Let me know your plans so I can be prepared. In Irons (2005), the same concept applies: If you knew what was coming, you could have been prepared. Lacking some way to foretell the future, how do you prepare for such an immense catastrophe as Hurricane Katrina?

For this Discussion, review the article by Irons from this week’s resources.

Assignment:  your understanding of the relevance and utility of the concept of predictable surprise. How does predictable surprise relate to the criminal justice system? Describe a predictable surprise event other than Hurricane Katrina, and explain its ramifications for the criminal justice system. Finally, explain how a criminal justice organization skilled at forecasting and identifying issues might have prevented this event or greatly reduced its effects.



Haberfeld, M. R. (2013). Police leadership: Organizational and managerial decision making process (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Chapter 7, “When the Event is Just Too Much to Handle: Situational Leadership Theory” (pp. 81–96)

Bueermann, J. (2012a). Being smart on crime with evidence-based policing. NIJ Journal, (269), 12–15. Retrieved from

Irons, L. (2005). Hurricane Katrina as a predictable surprise. Homeland Security Affairs, 1(2), 1–21. Retrieved from

Etue, K. K. (2012). No-boundaries policing. In D. R. C. McCullough & D. L. Spence (Eds.), American policing in 2022: Essays on the future of a profession (pp. 49–52). Retrieved from