“Covert Affairs'” Peter Gallagher is trading espionage for policing the streets and is joining the upcoming season of “Law & Order: SVU.”

The film, television and stage actor will play Deputy Chief William Dodds, a charismatic but tough-as-nails boss who oversees all of the special victims units in the Big Apple. He demands respect and hard work from the commanders who answer to him — and is used to getting it.

“I’ve wanted to write for and work with Peter Gallagher since … forever,” said “SVU” showrunner Warren Leight. “He’s an actor’s actor – deft with text and subtext; emotion and intellect. Like everyone else in our cast, he’s also a great singer. We’re all thrilled that this long into the show’s run, actors of his quality want to do an arc on ‘SVU.’”

Gallagher, who is also known for roles in “American Beauty,” “The O.C.,” and Broadway productions of “Hair” and “Guys and Dolls,” is repped by Gersh and John Carrabino.

Season 16 of “Law & Order: SVU” premieres at 9 p.m. Sept. 24 on NBC. Executive producers for the series are Dick Wolf, Leight, Julie Martin, Jonathan Starch and Peter Jankowski.