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DOC Community Corrections Officer Honors Law Enforcement on Summit of Mt. Rainier

September 09, 2016

By

DOC Communications

5 male hikers holding a black, white and blue American flag

Don Malo (second from left), a community corrections officer at the southeast Seattle field office, hiked to the summit of Mt. Rainier July 31 to fly a “Thin Blue Line” flag to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

SEATTLE - Living a healthy life and recognizing the complex and often dangerous work of law enforcement are important to Community Corrections Officer Don Malo. Malo, who works in the Washington Department of Corrections’s (DOC) southeast Seattle field office, recently combined those two passions at a unique and majestic place: the summit of Mt. Rainier.

On July 31, Malo and five friends hiked around jagged boulders, crossed ladders over crevasses and across snow-covered glaciers to reach the top and unfurl a “Thin Blue Line” flag to honor law enforcement and corrections officers who have died in the line of duty. The “Thin Blue Line” is a symbol used by law enforcement to commemorate fallen officers and symbolize the relationship of law enforcement officers with the community as protectors of civilians.

He says shootings of law enforcement officers that have made national headlines in recent months—such as the incidents in Baton Rouge and Dallas--motivated him to do the climb.

“Our community of brothers and sisters have been through a great deal lately. We have had a number of officers assaulted, and as you all know, many killed in the line of duty,” Malo said. “It was my team’s goal to reach the top and wave the flag in remembrance of our fallen brothers and sisters and to acknowledge the community of support that stands behind us.”

Reaching the summit is no easy task. It encompasses an elevation gain of more than 9,000 feet over a distance of more than eight miles. But Malo’s had plenty of practice—he’s hiked the summit seven other times.

He’s also a member of the department’s wellness committee—a group of employees who work together to coordinate activities that promote healthy work and home environments—and said the climb was also a way to promote stress management.

“Some years ago, I took up hiking and climbing as a way to relieve stress that accumulated from years of working in a juvenile detention center,” said Malo. “The fresh air and challenge of making it to the top of a mountain has helped me focus on being grounded and maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle.”

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