Armstrong County police officer charged with having guns on college campus

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UPDATE: Prosecutors in Massachusetts dismissed all charges against Officer DeForte, effective Jan. 16, 2015

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Police at a Massachusetts college campus last week filed a criminal complaint against a law school student who is also a part-time Armstrong County police officer after guns were discovered in the on-campus apartment where he was staying.

William DeForte, 42, of Clinton will be notified by summons by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Department of Public Safety to appear for arraignment on charges of carrying a firearm without a university license and storing his handguns and ammunition improperly.

It is illegal in Massachusetts for anyone to bring a gun onto a college campus, even if they are a police officer, without dispensation from the public safety chief, according to John Hoey, assistant chancellor of public affairs.

Officer DeForte did not have special permission, Mr. Hoey said.

Students alerted police that Officer DeForte had showed his handguns to them, according to Mr. Hoey.

Police converged on the apartment where Officer DeForte was staying after another student gave him a key to the residence, Mr. Hoey said. The officer was in class at the time.

Officer DeForte faces a hearing in New Bedford District Court for the Oct. 21 incident.

He is suspended from the school pending the outcome of the criminal charges and an internal disciplinary hearing, Mr. Hoey said.

Officer DeForte claims the federal Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act protects his right as an officer to carry a firearm.

Jonathan D. Silver:, 412-263-1962 or on Twitter @jsilverpg.

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