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Obituaries

Herb Lee, San Francisco's first Chinese-American police officer dies at 84

Lee joined the police force in 1957 and spent his first years working undercover in Chinatown

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 November, 2017, 9:44am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 November, 2017, 11:05pm

Herb Lee, San Francisco’s first Chinese-American police officer, has died. He was 84.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Lee died November 1 of colon cancer.

Lee joined the police force in 1957 and spent his first years working undercover in Chinatown.

He investigated gangs and later worked in the juvenile and narcotics divisions. He was promoted to sergeant and became executive director of the Police Activities League, overseeing athletic and enrichment programmes for poor children.

His son, John, who is also a police officer, said his father tried to steer youths away from crime and often took them out fishing aboard his boat, the Ah Choo.

“All the gang members knew him,” John Lee said.

“He took a lot of them fishing. When they went fishing on his boat, they were just kids. I remember once, one gang was getting off his boat when a rival gang was getting on. There was no problem. They were just there to fish.”

Herb Lee retired from the force in 1987.

Police Chief Bill Scott called Lee “a true pioneer” and a beloved mentor and colleague.

Herb Lee is survived by his wife, Dorothy and by children Rick, John, Penny and Lynette.