Captain Barney Miller and the police officers of the 12th Precinct deal with criminals, victims and each other. Notable characters included Detective Ron Harris
(Ron Glass), who made himself a fortune writing a thinly veiled novel about the precinct - and lost it just as quickly when a less than happy lawyer he parodied sued. Detective Arthur Dietrich
(Steve Landesburg) did many things before he became a cop - except discover what he really wanted to do. Detective Sergeant Phil Fish
(Abe Vigoda) left after three seasons for his own spin off, Fish (US)
. Vigoda, most famous for portraying mobster Sal Tessio in 1972's The Godfather
, always left viewers wondering if he had the energy to do the job, and always did it. The laconic Detective Yemana's
(Jack Soo) deadpan deliveries contributed some of the show's funniest moments, and veteran character actor James Gregory brought comedic brilliance to Inspector Luger
, who frequently dropped by to chat with Barney, regaling him with tales of how much better the department ran "back in the good old days, with Brownie, Foster, and Kleiner." His blithely shocking suggestions came from his era, when civil rights had less value.
The show only occasionally departed from it's principal set, the small squad room that was freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer; the prominent holding cell, frequently leaky roof and unreliable plumbing served as comedic backdrops. Most departures from this set were to Barney's even smaller office; only rarely did the show leave the precinct house.