Alaska Defense Force Brig. Gen. Simon Brown pins a badge on Maurice “Mo” Hughes, left, who was promoted from commander of A Detachment to colonel of the Alaska State Troopers during a press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Alaska Defense Force Brig. Gen. Simon Brown pins a badge on Maurice “Mo” Hughes, left, who was promoted from commander of A Detachment to colonel of the Alaska State Troopers during a press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Peninsula trooper commander promoted to colonel

Maurice Hughes most recently served as Commander of A Detachment

Captain Maurice “Mo” Hughes is the new colonel of the Alaska State Troopers, effective Thursday.

The former commander of A Detachment — which includes the Kenai Peninsula — Hughes was promoted at a press conference attended by Gov. Mike Duneavy and Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell. He is the first Black person to serve as colonel of the Alaska State Troopers and to serve above the rank of captain.

Hughes’ promotion was one of two announced during Wednesday’s press conference: Outgoing Col. Bryan Barlow was promoted to deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Public Safety. The former deputy commissioner, Leon Morgan, retired after 25 years of law enforcement service in Alaska.

Hughes started with the troopers in 1990 and has worked in Soldotna, Delta Junction, Kodiak and Anchorage.

Hughes during Wednesday’s press conference, thanked Cockrell for his “faith and confidence” in the direction Hughes wants to take the department. Hughes also took time to recognize other pioneering Black troopers, such as Dr. Ed Rhodes, who became the first Black Alaska State Trooper in 1966, and Alaska Defense Force Brigadier General Simon Brown, the department’s first captain.

“It’s an honor and I’m humbled at the appointment,” Hughes said.

Cockrell called the decision to promote Hughes and Barlow his most consequential decision since becoming commissioner, but also his easiest. Cockrell said he’s “totally stoked” for Hughes’ promotion.

“He’s a true professional,” Cockrell said. “He knows the job … I know that I couldn’t have picked a better person.”

State Sen. Peter Micciche celebrated Hughes’ promotion in a Wednesday statement, in which he said “will continue the Alaska Department of Public Safety’s tradition of excellence and commitment to ensuring the safety of all Alaskans.”

“I have worked with the Colonel through many tough issues over the years ranging from natural disasters to violent crimes and on many constituent issues,” Micciche wrote. “He is the consummate Trooper, always willing to respectfully engage and inspiring to those following in his footsteps.”

The full Wednesday press conference can be found on Dunleavy’s Facebook page.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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