During a snowstorm on New Year's Eve, a busload of criminals is dropped off at Precinct 13 on its last day of operation before the building is torn down. One prisoner on the bus was the Detroit mobster and cop-killer, Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishbourne). Police Sergeant Jake Roenick (Ethan Hawke) and Jasper (Brian Dennehy) are the only police officers left at Precinct 13. With only two police officers, Jake doesn't want them to be left at his precinct. But the blizzard has gotten too bad for them to go any further. There is an assault on Precinct 13, and at first, it looks like Bishop's men are trying to break him out of jail. But Jake discovers that the men outside the precinct are police officers instead. They are crooked cops that have been receiving payoffs from Bishop for years, and they want to kill Bishop before he can testify against them in court. The bad cops do not want to leave any witnesses, so they have decided to kill everyone in the precinct. To survive the night, Jake lets the prisoner out of the jail cells and gives them guns to protect themselves. If they don't band together and protect each other's backs, they will all die.