Alaska in Brief

After public safety shift, Alaska State Troopers have first Black leader

By: - August 31, 2022 1:08 pm

Alaska State Troopers Capt. Maurice “Mo” Hughes is seen at a press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, during a ceremony naming him the first Black leader of the Alaska State Troopers. (Video screenshot)

The deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety is retiring, and as part of the shift to replace him, the department has named its first Black colonel, Maurice “Mo” Hughes.

James Cockrell, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety, announced the changes to reporters on Wednesday morning. 

Current DPS Deputy Commissioner Leon Morgan will be replaced by Brian Barlow, the current colonel in charge of the Alaska State Troopers.

Barlow’s position will be filled by Hughes, currently a captain in charge of troopers in the Kenai Peninsula and Southeast Alaska.

Cockrell said he is “totally stoked” to promote Hughes, who has over 30 years of experience.

“Being the first African-American colonel,” Hughes said, “it’s an honor, and I’m humbled at the appointment.”

According to the department, Hughes was hired as a trooper in 1990, and has worked in Soldotna, Delta Junction, Kodiak and Anchorage. He has worked in a variety of roles, including as a recruiter and instructor.  

Speaking to reporters, Hughes said his appointment “shows the diversity within the department” but that he isn’t sure that his appointment will change much within the agency.

“We have a good, solid relationship,” he said about troopers’ commanders. “I don’t think that’s going to change. I think we’re just going to continue to move forward, do positive things, and just be a great agency.”


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James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected].