JACKSON (AP) — David Huggins, who led the Mississippi Highway Patrol under one governor and the Department of Public Safety under another, died Wednesday. He was 74.
A Department of Public Safety news release on Friday said Huggins died of health complications, but it did not specify what kind.
Huggins became a state trooper in 1969. He served as chief of the Mississippi Highway Patrol from 1988 to 1992 under Democratic Gov. Ray Mabus.
From 2000 to 2004, Huggins was commissioner of the Department of Public Safety under Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.
“Commissioner Huggins was a visionary, mentor, and friend,” the current director of the Highway Patrol, Col. Randy Ginn, said in the news release. “We will not forget his legacy and the impact he has made on the lives of the men and women of this agency.”
Huggins was a Brandon resident and a Biggersville native. He started his law enforcement career in the 1960s at the Alcorn County Sheriff’s Department in northeastern Mississippi, while he was still in community college.
Huggins had said that while he was in Alcorn County, he helped investigate the August 1967 killing of Pauline Pusser, the wife of Buford Pusser, the sheriff of neighboring McNairy County, Tennessee. Buford Pusser was known for cracking down on gambling, illegal liquor and other crimes along the border of Tennessee and Mississippi, and his wife was shot to death while riding in a car as the sheriff responded to a call about a disturbance.
After Huggins’ time as public safety commissioner, he was sergeant-at-arms for the Mississippi Senate from 2004 to 2008 — one of the top security positions inside the state Capitol. In 2008, he became chief investigator for the state auditor’s office.
“Huggins leaves a great legacy and served a historic role within the Department of Public Safety, Mississippi Highway Patrol and the State of Mississippi,” Sean Tindell, the current commissioner of public safety, said in the news release.