Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin completed his cabinet nominee picks on Monday with the announcement of Fauquier County Sheriff Robert Mosier to be Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, and recent Magellan of Virginia President John Littel to be Secretary of Health and Human Resources.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on Virginians across the Commonwealth, and John will play a pivotal role in overseeing our efforts in protecting Virginians’ lives and livelihoods. Starting on Day One, John’s experience will be an asset as we fix our broken mental and behavioral health system, ensure Virginians have access to affordable, free-market healthcare options, and reform our healthcare safety net to save taxpayer dollars and improve healthcare outcomes,” Youngkin said in the announcement.
Littel’s selection comes as Virginia’s medical resources are being strained by COVID-19 patients. On Monday, Governor Ralph Northam announced a 30-day executive order aimed at improving hospital capacity and staffing.
Virginia is also facing other health-related problems that are exacerbated by the pandemic. The opioid crisis was a serious problem in Virginia before COVID-19, but it has gotten worse in 2020 and 2021. Virginia’s eight state-operated mental health facilities had dangerously low staffing levels in 2021, which forced the temporary closure of some of the hospitals to civil temporary detention order admissions during the summer. Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner Alison Land told legislators in April that was due to years of little progress in efforts to attract staff to the high-risk, underpaid positions.
Littel has also served as the deputy secretary of Health and Human Resources. He’s worked for the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. He is also on the board of The Gloucester Institute, a leadership institution for young African Americans that was founded by Kay Coles James, Youngkin’s pick for Secretary of Commonwealth.
Some of those health problems affect Virginia’s law enforcement, limiting officers’ ability to respond to other situations. Additionally, Virginia was rattled in 2020 with major protests after the killing of George Floyd. In reaction, Northam and Democratic legislators led a months-long special session reforming Virginia’s criminal justice laws. Republicans are hoping to reverse some of those changes, and have complained that those changes and related discussions harm law enforcement officer morale. Additionally, Youngkin criticized the current parole board and promised to stand up for law enforcement with more funding.
Mosier has experience in local, federal, and international law enforcement roles, including with the U.S. Department of Defense and with the Department of State. He was elected sheriff in 2015.
In 2017, Mosier attracted local controversy by applying to partner with ICE on immigration enforcement, according to The Fauquier Times, although a month later he dropped the application.
He worked to earn a Virginia accreditation for the Fauquier Sheriff’s Office. In March 2019, The Fauquier Times reported that Mosier earned the accreditation, winning the local VFW post’s first-ever Citizen of the Year award. The award presenter said Mosier had reduced the number of unmarked patrol vehicles, improved department morale with higher salaries, assigned more school resource officers, and doubled the training budget.
Youngkin said in the press release, “Sheriff Mosier will play an important role in keeping our communities safe. We will get to work on this key priority by fully funding and raising pay for our law enforcement officers. Together, we will protect qualified immunity, and on Day One fire the Parole Board. Bob shares my vision for innovating how our law enforcement officers build trust and engage in their communities they serve by building bridges with local leaders to reduce crime and keep Virginians safe.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “John Littel” by John Littel. Background Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Doug Kerr. CC BY-SA 2.0.