City attorney suspended

ALBANY -- The top legal adviser for the Albany City Commission has been suspended without pay for three days as punishment for having a pistol in his desk drawer at the Albany Police Department.

City Attorney Nathan Davis will spend today, Thursday and Friday on administrative leave without pay following a vote Tuesday by the Albany City Commission.

The unanimous vote was held after the commission came out of a closed-door session where it discussed the matter. At one point, Davis was called into the room with the commissioners for a brief period before being sent back out.

A pistol was discovered in Davis' desk at the Law Enforcement Center three weeks ago and was reported to city officials. Davis has no concealed-carry permit issued by the Probate Court and has said that he had the gun based largely because of his experience in 2006 when he was the victim of an attempted robbery, documents show.

Since that time, the commission has met in executive session to discuss personnel matters three times, once inviting Donnie Sweat -- a local attorney who is utilized for human resources matters.

Mayor Willie Adams said that the discipline was an unfortunate but necessary move.

"It was something the board pondered for a good while," Adams said. "But I think this was fair given the circumstances. There were some on the board who wanted a tougher penalty, some who wanted less, so, you know, this was a good compromise."

The city's current personnel policy doesn't specifically deal with employees having weapons in the workplace. The only document that city officials have been able to produce is an administrative order issued by then-city manager Janice Allen-Jackson that barred employees under the direct command and control of the city manager from possessing weapons. Davis is an appointee of the board and answers only to them, not City Manager Alfred Lott.

Adams acknowledged the problem with trying to apply the personnel policy to this situation, saying that it underscores the need for a new policy.

Ironically, the decision comes as the commission prepares to perform a comprehensive overhaul of its personnel policy to close any gaps or loopholes and to remove antiquated components of the existing policy, which some on the city staff have described as a patchwork of provisions.

Commissioners will review and vote on the first two chapters of the policy during their May 6 work session.