A NEWMAKET police officer who became the first expert on modern Chinese gangs and learnt Cantonese which he spoke "with a soft Cork accent," was honoured with the prestigious John F Kennedy legacy award for public service.
Diarmuid Philpott is the son of Jeremiah Philpott and Julia (nee O'Rahilly). He left Ireland in the 1950s and joined the San Francisco police department.
Shortly afterwards, San Francisco was plunged into chaos and turmoil as waves of social change hit the Californian coast. Police officers and the general public became the targets of random shootings and bombings by radical fringe groups.
Among the crimes which he helped to investigate include the riots in 1967, as well as the "Zebra killings," which involved 14 execution style murders and eight assaults. In addition, he also investigated the Patty Hearst kidnapping and her capture.
Diarmuid worked in intelligence from 1967 and after a successful career with the San Franciso Police Department; he retired as Deputy Chief in 1994.
John F O'Riordan, originally from Doneraile, and who is the President of the Irish American Democratic Caucus, presented the award to Diarmuid in front of 800 of his family and friends who had gathered at San Francico's Irish centre.
The award is in honour of Diarmuid's lifetime commitment to public safety in San Francisco. The Mayor of San Francisco, Edwin M Lee declared February 16, 2013, as "Diarmuid Philpott day in San Francisco."
Diarmuid has been married for 50 years to Mary Ann Leahy, a San Franciso native. Their children have carried on the proud tradition of being involved in the public service of the police, as their daughter Teresa is a secretary at the Police Academy while Michael is in the Homicide division and Brian is based at the Tenderloin Station.
Since his retirement, Diarmuid has remained very active in the community and is the President of the Irish Societies and Chair of the Cork-San Francisco Sister City Committee.