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San Francisco's First Full-Time Chinese-American Police Officer Dies

Herb Lee eventually became executive director of the Police Activities League, overseeing athletic and enrichment programs for poor children.

by Associated Press and Charles Lam / / Source: Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Herb Lee, San Francisco's first Chinese-American police officer, has died. He was 84.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Lee died Nov. 1 of colon cancer.

Lee joined the police force in 1957 after serving in the U.S. Navy 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.

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

After joining the police department, Lee helped recruit minority police officers, according to NBC Bay Area. Many of those recruit took on leadership positions, police said.

Lee retired from the force in 1987.

"He was a beloved friend, mentor, and colleague to many San Francisco Police Department officers and we will hold him as a shining example of how one person can make a positive difference for so many people," Police Chief William Scott said in a statement.

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