Prologue: Wojo brings in Dorothy Lamota, a manicurist. She says 'Give a man a manicure and right away he thinks you're a hooker.' She says a customer made her mad and she has to get back to the barber shop or she will lose her job. Wojo says that once a judge sets bail, she can make arrangements. She asks if she can get her stuff back and he says everything but the scissors. Fish is interrogating Charlie, a man who is accused of stealing furs. Fish tells him to confess; that they already have him on possession and burglary is only a couple years more. Charlie says he didn't steal them, that he found them in an alley and thought someone threw them out. Fish says they cost $12,000 and Charlie says it was a very good neighborhood. Harris asks Fish for any booking slips because he ran out. Fish says he is using his personal stationary and tells Harris to help himself. Harris reads the heading: 'Bernice and Phil.' Fish says that to cross that out: 'I did, a long time ago.' Barney comes in and says that three detectives are gone. Nick asks if they were killed. Barney says that they were laid off and Nick says that's worse. Barney says to expect more if the city doesn't get more money soon. Officer Kogan comes in and asks for who needs mug shots and prints. Nick asks why it took so long for him to come upstairs. Kogan says there are only six officers because of layoffs; 14 of them had been laid off in the past two weeks. Wojo says 2000 have been laid offcall over the city. Dorothy says that it won't be safe on the streets; Kogan says not with 2000 unemployed cops running loose. Chano comes in and says that once a person could walk in Washington Square and hear birds singing, now it's people crying about crime. He says he's nervous coming to work. Wojo asks Chano to take a call and sign some reports. He says a man needs to take a breath and regain his perspective. He does a short chant and says 'I got it now.' Wojo reads a newspaper article saying the city is asking the state of New York for help with its budget. Harris says they won't get it. Nick asks why not and Harris says if he was the government and Nick was the city, would he give Harris more money. Nick asks how much. Harris says that the city has closed three fire stations and could do the same thing to the police. Chano says not as long as there are more crimes than fires. He says that people commit crimes to eat but they don't set fires to eat. Fish after putting Charlie in the cage says 'They do if they want something hot.' Wojo says he can say that since he has seniority. Fish says he also has gout and gallstones. Chano says they need young blood on the job. Wojo asks how they decide who goes and stays. Chano says that there's someone downtown going 'Eenie, meenie, miney, mo.' Harris says 'That means I'm next.'
Part One: Harris says he should have been a doctor: they never get laid off, it's not dangerous and if someone tells them to come over in the middle of the night they can say no and hang up. Chano asks if he wants to go through life telling people to stick their tongues out at him and he says they do it anyway. Chano says he was meant to be a cop. Harris says you are what you make of yourself. Chano says he can prove his point: he could have been anything he wanted to be because he is intelligent, but he's a cop. Chavo then takes a call about an assault taking place. Harris asks if they would definitely be there and Chano says that it's his job; that Harris can afford to loaf on the job but he is a minority. Kogan brings Dorothy up and says that since there are no matrons, they have to keep her until they can take her downtown. She asks if she can have her phone call and Wojo says she can. She says Wojo has nice hands and shouldn't bite his nails. He starts to explain how the job makes him do it but she is calling her boss. She tells him she's embarrassed by the whole thing. She then tells him he could be more understanding because it's the first time she ever stabbed anyone. She then is told that she's fired as the boss hangs up. She tells Wojo who says there's a lot of that going around. Barney takes a call from the captain of the 27th Precinct who asks if he can lend him a couple men. Barney says he's lost 22 officers and three plainclothes detectives. He says he has 'less firepower than P.S. 86.' He asks the officer how many he lost. He said another captain got laid off. Barney says that he didn't realize it was that bad. Nick says he has a call from the Department of Personnel. Dorothy says that she once gave a manicure to a carpenter who only had seven fingers. Wojo says that she must have given him a discount but she says that she charged full price because she has a special ability and she has a set price and you can't go by the finger. She then sees the furs at Fish's desk. She asks if they are his and he says he's a cop, not a duke. Charlie says they are his and she asks if she can put one on. Fish puts one on her and she says she's never felt anything like it. Charlie says she was born to wear mink. She asks what he is going to do with them. He says that was going to sell them and that he has no one to give them to. She says he has lovely hands and Fish says that he should have kept them in his pockets. Chano and Harris bring in a Mr. Shine. He says he was a college graduate. Barney comes out and tells Wojo to come into his office. He asks what about and Barney says he will tell him in the office. Wojo asks if there's anything he should know about and Barney says that's what he wants to talk about. Chano takes Shine's vitals. He says he lives in a hotel on Bowery, but he's a stockbroker. Barney comes over and Chano says Shine was apprehended by a patrolman with a woman's purse. Harris says he is trying to reach the woman it belongs to. He says he couldn't take having no money on Wall Street. Chano asks if he is married. He says he tried it twice and it didn't work and it was a waste of eight months, which amazes Fish. He says he had a big income, a great apartment, a Ferrari and women. He asks for a cup of coffee and Fish says he's had everything else. Harris says the woman who's purse Shine stole will come down to press charges and she also says Shine hit her. Barney asks if that is true and Shine admits it, saying it was another way of saying 'Let go of the purse.' He asks Barney what he would have done and he says he would have found another way to get the money. He asks Shine if he has any friends and he says 'I told you, I'm a stockbroker.' He says he was until the SEC investigation. He asks if they ever heard of Colony Funding. Fish says he had 28 shares. Shine says he had 5000 and lost all his money. He says his hotel is filthy. He also says he had no money this morning. He asks Nick if he know what that is like and he says 'Not yet.' Chano asks him to go into the cage and then asks him how much his Ferrari cost. Shine says $26,000. Chano says that he'd have to work 10 years of working overtime every night to make that much. Barney then asks he and Harris into his office. Wojo asks what happened and Chano says he just blew the car. Fish is still amazed that Shine was married for eight months. Barney says he doesn't like to beat around the bush, that he got a call from downtown and layoffs are in order. Wojo asks if it is for the four of them and Barney says he wishes it were. He asks them for their badges and guns and says that they are officially off duty. Nick comes in and asks if they wanted to hear something funny. Then he looks at their faces and asks 'Later?' He leaves and the others turn in their guns and badges to Barney.
Part Two: As Wojo cleans out his desk, Fish says that it can't last long, that the city needs cops. He says that the city is a fear-ridden, crime-riddled, freaked out disaster area, so he should cheer up. Dorothy, still wearing the mink, asks for her manicuring kit. Fish asks her to take it off. He says that women are crazy about such things, that Bernice would do anything for one 'if she could do anything.' Wojo says it isn't fair and Harris says it's never been fair, that the first people to go are Puerto Ricans and blacks. Wojo says he's neither and Harris says he's a token layoff. Barney gives Nick the next day's roster: it's just them and Fish. He tells Nick to fix the roster board he says he doesn't want to. Barney says they know about it. Nick says to have Fish do it and he says he asked Nick to do it. Nick tells him to do it and he says he has other things to do. Dorothy is giving Charlie a manicure. He says that he wishes that she didn't have to do it while he was in the cage, but she says that if it was like this at the barber shop, she wouldn't be in the station. Ethel Gorman, the woman who had her purse stolen, arrives to identify Shine. Chano and Harris leave to get things from downstairs. Wojo brings Shine, then says he's done and hands Barney the key to the cage. Nick says that they got a call from a supermarket that had two men walk in and a clerk said they though one of them had a gun. Barney asks if they were still there and Nick says they left. Barney says they need more stickups like that. Ethel says that she's a stockbroker and had just left her office when Shine came up to her and hit her. He says there was no maliciousness in it. She says she wants to press charges. He begs her not to send her to prison. Barney gives her the form to fill out. Shine says that he's not a thief. Ethel says he hit a woman and he says he doesn't believe in double standards. She says her tooth is loose and he says that teeth don't stay loose. He begs her not to press charges and she says that she just wants to get her purse and leave. They go to get their belongings. However, she says there was sixty-eight dollars in the wallet and Nick gives shine the exact amount. She says it's her money and he says no, that he went through hell for it. Barney insists he give it back but he says that he feels like a bum without any money. Ethel calls him insane and he says that the money doesn't mean anything to her but it means. She says it's her money and he says 'What do you want me to do, go out in the street and mug someone else?' She then says she wants to leave, that she has her belongings and he can keep the money. Barney tells her to look at it as a reward. She leaves and he asks if Barney sees his point. Barney says he's confused and he says it's not who you are, it's what you have. He asks Nick if he understands and he says yes. He then says he feels better. Fish tells him to have a good day but he doesn't leave. Barney asks if there's anything else they can do for him and he says that he didn't want to leave without their respect. He does leave, then Kogan comes in for Dorothy. Charlie asks her to keep in touch and she says she doesn't know where either of them are going. He says to meet her back at the squadroom on Christmas Eve every year. He asks Barney if that's okay and he says there's always something going on then. Kogan leads her out, then the other detectives come back to say goodbye. Then the supermarket calls back saying that the two guys came back with two other guys and they are carrying shotguns. He tells Fish and Yemana to go out. He calls downstairs for backup but finds out there isn't enough. The other detectives offer to go with them. Barney says they are officially off duty. He is reluctant and asks who would pay their salary; Nick volunteers for that. Kogan comes up, and Barney tells him to watch the phones. Wojo says that he's not asking them to do anything. Harris says they needed a lift to the store and Chano says they were going shopping anyway. Barney says he wants them to buy something. When they get back, Barney tells Kogan they got help from other precincts. Wojo says that they took four guys with sawed-off shotguns to Manhattan South. Kogan gives Barney several messages and he's going to take Charlie down because they have a car now. Barney says they did good work but they lied to him. Chano says they didn't, grabs a bag and asks if he wants a tangerine. Charlie gives Barney an address to give Dorothy if he doesn't make it back on Christmas Eve. Barney looks at the messages and sees a stickup, two muggings and a breaking and entering, as well as another call from the Department of Personnel. Nick tells the others to wait for them. Barney finds out that the state denied the mayor's request but they got a loan from Connecticut so the NYPD is back on full staff until the loan runs out. Barney hands out the calls. Chano says it could start a trend, that they have 48 states to go. Wojo says 49 but Chano says you can't trust New York. Barney asks 'What about the Federal Government?' and Fish says 'Whose?' Kogan then has a burglary report: three typewriters and an adding machine. Barney asks from where and Kogan says from downstairs while he was watching the phones.
Epilogue: Barney hands out paychecks to the detectives. Chano says he's going to have a big dinner to celebrate because he almost didn't have dinner. Harris says he's going to cash it quick before Connecticut changes their mind. Wojo then sees that his check is smaller and Chano and Harris find that theirs are smaller also. Barney says that because they were officially off duty for three hours, the city docked their pay for that time. Wojo says that isn't fair and Barney says it's going to get worse because there's another strike coming. Fish asks who, then the lights go out and Barney says 'Con Edison.'