Three liquor-store robbers, two men and a woman, kill a cop while escaping. The woman and the younger man get away, but the older killer is captured. When allowed to make his one phone call, he talks in Greek to the younger robber, telling him about Kojak's niece and the birthday party she is having in East River Park. The killers stake out the party and kidnap the little girl, demanding the leader's release as a ransom for letting the child go. Kojak uses a painting the little girl included in a ransom note to figure out where they might be headed.
The police investigate the bombing of a restaurant in which several people were killed, including the mistress of one of the detectives working of the case, who doesn't tell the others about his relationship with her, and who is unaware that the person who committed the bombing is his own emotionally unstable wife.
The key witness in a robbery/murder trial is murdered just before he was about to testify, seriously damaging the prosecution's case. Kojak's hopes are either to use less reliable witnesses or find another way to nail the killers.
In an episode originally scheduled as the season opener (it was pushed back a few weeks to allow "Birthday Party," considered a better audience draw, to get the slot), a serial killer plunges a knife into anyone who stiffs him consumerwise -- six murders to date. The chief suspect is a troubled young man who sprays graffiti on walls talking about the character "The Grim Reaper."
Kojak's team snares child molester Dettrow, who they are forced to release because he has diplomatic immunity and is helping out the FBI. Kojak won't give up on nailing the arrogant serial sex offender, and doubts the FBI's pledge to keep Dettrow under wraps. Dettrow's psychiatrist counsels Kojak that such a compulsive is most likely to nab a child when he's under pressure. Kojak's shields tail the elusive Dettrow to prevent another molestation, so when they spot the East German embassy chauffeur sweating through a furtive meeting with a Red Chinese, Kojak fears ...
An undercover street cop shoots and kills a Puerto Rican youth who was pointing a gun at his partner, but the boy's sister tells a different story of what happened, and the community accuses the police of covering up for the officer.
Two longshoremen are murdered, but Kojak can't break through the code of silence of their co-workers and get any of them to testify against the mobsters who killed them. The workers are more concerned with dealing out their own justice on whoever of their own may have helped set up the victims.
Kojak is unhappy when McNeil insists an attractive woman Detective joins the team. But the hostility between them begins to wane when they begin a murder investigation. In this tale of Murder and drug dealing, Detective Jo Long eventually wins over the respect of her male colleagues.