Hughes becomes first Black director of Alaska State Troopers

Hughes’ appointment comes as the troopers face continued diversity and staff retention challenges.

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Maurice “Mo” Hughes has been promoted to colonel of the Alaska State Troopers, becoming the force’s first Black leader.

He succeeds Bryan Barlow, who was promoted to deputy commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety. The moves, announced this week, took effect Thursday. Barlow succeeds Leon Morgan as deputy commissioner. Morgan is retiring.

Hughes’ appointment comes as the troopers face continued diversity and staff retention challenges, Alaska Public Media reported. State officials in 2020 acknowledged that despite ongoing efforts to diversify recruitment, 87.3% of troopers were white. 

Alaska state trooper official batch icon on clothes close up (Adobe Stock)

Hughes will oversee about 350 sworn troopers statewide. 

He had been commander of a troopers’ division that covers southeast Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula. The department in a statement said he is the first African American to serve as the colonel of the Alaska State Troopers or to serve above the rank of captain. He began his career with the troopers in 1990, and state public safety officials emphasized his range of experience with the agency during that time.

In the statement, Hughes called it “the honor of a lifetime to serve Alaskans” as head of the state troopers. 

“Becoming the first African American colonel of the Alaska State Troopers is a historical moment and represents the diversity of the Alaska State Troopers,” he said. He thanked African American leaders who “came before and led the way for others,” including the first Black state trooper, retired Lt. Ed Rhodes, and the state troopers’ first two Black captains, Simon Brown and Tony April.

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