SFPAL Sergeant Herbert P. Lee Fishing Program


SF Police Activities League,

Sergeant Herbert P. Lee

Youth Fishing Program

San Francisco Police Activities League
350 Amber Drive, Suite 203

San Francisco, CA 94131

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Sgt Herbert Lee Fishing Program Logo

The Big One That Didn't Get Away

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Sergeant Herbert Patrick Lee (November 19, 1932 - November 1, 2017)
Herbert Patrick Lee, 84, passed away peacefully surrounded by family members on November 1, 2017 in Oakland after undergoing a brief but valiant battle to treat colon cancer.

Herb was born at home on November 19, 1932 in San Francisco. He was one of ten children born to his parents Al and Lillian Lee. Herb attended St. Mary's School and Polytechnic High School where he first caught the "singing bug" and performed in many stage productions. Herb met his wife Dorothy at a dance in Chinatown and they were married in 1953. They moved to San Diego while Herb served in the Navy.

A true San Franciscan, Herbert was the first Chinese American to be a full-time San Francisco police officer in 1957. Early in his career at SFPD, Herb was enlisted to help recruit minority police officers. Many of Herb's recruits have become respected police leaders. Herb went on to start the PAL Fishing program where he took thousands of under-privileged kids fishing on his boat the "Ah Choo." In his last role, Herb was the Executive Director of the entire PAL program overseeing athletic, fishing, police cadet and other programs. Herb retired from SFPD after 30 years of service in 1987. In recent years, Herb thoroughly enjoyed singing karaoke, fishing, golfing and bowling.

Herb lived his life as a pioneer and inspired a generation of law enforcement professionals. His energetic personality and "love of life" spirit will be missed by all.

Photo of Sergeant Herbert P. Lee

SFPAL Sgt. Herbert Lee Fishing Program History:
  • SFPAL Fishing Program first started in the summer of 1968 by Sgt. Herbert Lee.
  • Sgt. Lee and other volunteer Police Officers took hundreds of kids on his boat named the “Ah Choo” and taught them how to fish and to have a healthy respect for the environment. The kids also learned valuable life lessons along the way pertaining to: Respect, Discipline, Integrity, and having a life-long thirst for Knowledge.
  • After Sgt. Lee retired from the department, Ofc. Bob Ford then carried forward the fishing program and its mission of mentoring kids for several years to come. Ofc. Ford was dedicated to the program and passionate about fishing. He served as a positive role model for many years.
  • Since the program’s inception, thousands of kids have participated in the program and as a result have developed a new found respect for the men and women of the San Francisco Police Department thereby strengthening the ties with the community.
  • This program would not be possible without the generous support of local businesses; Fisherman’s Wharf Merchants Association, SIMCO Restaurants, Alcatraz Cruises, Port of San Francisco, Blue & Gold Fleet, Captain Joe’s, and individuals like you. If you would like to support us in our mission to mentor at risk youth then the please visit sfpal.org and make a donation today. Thank you to all of those who have supported SFPAL in the past. 
In The Beginning
2 youths holding fish

In the summer of 1968, several charter fishing boats left the piers of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf loaded with wide-eyed kids looking for new adventures. Accompanying these novice fisherman were a group of off-duty San Francisco Police Officers bent on providing these kids with thrills they had never before experienced.

Nearly forty years after those first few fishing trips, the San Francisco Police Activities League, Sergeant Herbert P. Lee Youth Fishing Program is still an integral part of recreational opportunities for Bay Area youngsters. More than 130,000 boys and girls have participated in the Program since its inception and every exciting trip has been escorted by at least one officer.


Charter Boat Fishing


During the recent past, the fishing program has focused on providing charter boat fishing trips either in the San Francisco Bay or on the Pacific Ocean. Thousands of kids have experienced the thrill of catching their first king salmon or striped bass. Just imagine how excited they must be in relating their fishing experience to their family and friends.

3 girls holding fish


The "Good Guys"

The police officers who work with kids in the San Francisco Police Activities League, Sergeant Herbert P. Lee Youth Fishing Program donate much of their off-duty time to participate with kids in fishing activities. The Program originated with the intent of getting officers and kids together in a non-law enforcement setting. Our volunteer police officers teach kids how to fish and how to enjoy the natural beauty and resources of the San Francisco Bay and the coastal Pacific Ocean. At the same time, kids come to find out that officers really are there to help them and they are not someone to be afraid of. For most participating kids, our trips are their first opportunity to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and to enjoy the bounty that the Pacific Ocean has to offer.

The Future

The nature of fishing in the San Francisco Bay Area has changed significantly over the past twenty years. To adapt to these changes, the Program is in the process of creating new partnerships that will allow for the creation of a new marine education component. Kids will develop a new appreciation of the Bay Area's marine ecology while still enjoying the opportunity of catching a "fish of a lifetime'.

Supporting The Kids

The Program has always been supported by private donations and corporate sponsorship. While the San Francisco Police Department has assisted with personnel, the actual costs to run the Program have come from the limited fund raising that members of the Program have been able to generate. Over the years the Program has partnered with other organizations such as the Guardsmen and the San Francisco Police Officers Association. Many local businesses have 'sponsored' a boat trip for local kids and have been able to send a representative to join the kids in their big adventure.

The Program's activities have always been provided at no cost to either the individual youngster or the organizations/groups that they belong to. Our goals is to continue any of our futre activities at no cost to participating kids.

boy holding fish
"The Catch of a Lifetime"

fishing program pond background