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Where EAST meets the Northwest


SAN FRANCISCO FIRST. Herb Lee, San Francisco’s first Chinese-American police officer, is seen in this undated photo released by the San Francisco Police Department. Lee, who joined the police force in 1957, spent his first years working undercover in Chinatown and retired in 1987. He died November 1, 2017 of colon cancer. (San Francisco Police Department via AP)

From The Asian Reporter, V27, #22 (November 20, 2017), page 8.

San Francisco’s first Chinese- American police officer dies

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Herb Lee, San Francisco’s first Chinese-American police officer, has died. He was 84 years old.

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 programs for poor children.

His son, John, who’s also a police officer, says his father tried to steer youth away from crime and often took them out fishing aboard his 25-foot boat, the Ah Choo.

Lee retired from the force in 1987.

Police chief Bill Scott called Lee "a true pioneer" and a beloved mentor and colleague.

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