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Lititz says goodbye to ‘Lollipop Cop’
Officer Sandhaus, 25-year police veteran, dies
“Your policeman is always your friend.”
It was this credo that Ron Sandhaus lived by. Whether speaking to a group of elementary kids about the importance of having a flashlight with them on Halloween night, judging a Boy Scout pinewood derby or camping it up in an AMBUCS musical.
Ronald Sandhaus was a member of the Lititz Borough Police Department from 1971 to 1997, where he served for 25 years and nine months before retiring.
“He tended to want to do things for youth in the community,” said former Lititz mayor and borough councilman Russell Pettyjohn. “He encouraged kids not to smoke at the high school.”
Sandhaus’ zeal to curtail teen smoking led to the passing of legislature that no youth under the age of 18 could smoke publicly in Lititz.
Chief William Seace, who worked with Sandhaus from 1979 until his retirement in 1997, mentioned that Sandhaus is also credited with introducing the Neighborhood Watch Program to Lititz in 1983.
“He was doing ‘community policing’ on foot long before the notion actually existed,” said Seace. “He’d sit down and talk with the store owners and old timers over coffee. We still try to promote that spirit in our officers today. You can solve a lot of crime just listening to the heartbeat of Lititz.”
Seace noted that Sandhaus was a true crime prevention officer.
“He wasn’t the type of cop that would hide behind a billboard and wait for someone to break the law,” said Barbara Sandhaus, Ron’s wife.
“Ron was ‘preventative patrol.’ That was his catch word,” said Seace. “He felt that talking to people and getting to know them could lead to the prevention of crime.”
This philosophy probably best took shape in Sandhaus’ interactions with kids.
“Back in the day, the police handed out Tootsie Rolls to the kids when we patrolled on Halloween,” Seace said. “In 1979, Ron was on duty by himself. He decided we should give out lollipops instead &tstr; the kind with the Tootsie Rolls in the middle.”
It was because of that decision that Sandhaus got his moniker “The Lollipop Cop.”
The tradition of Lititz Borough Police handing out Tootsie Pops on Halloween patrol continues to this day. The department orders seven or eight boxes a year.
“It’s amazing how fast they go,” Seace said. “Tootsie Pops is a line item in our budget. It really is.”
Sandhaus was honored in 1980 by the Lancaster City-County Human Relations Committee for helping the children of Lititz see a positive image of the police at work.
When interviewed about his honor, Sandhaus said that he often saw parents threaten young children who misbehaved by telling them “I’ll get that policeman after you!” He didn’t like that at all. He felt parents had the responsibility to explain to young people that police are there to help them, not hurt them.
In addition to handing out lollipops, Sandhaus used to lecture elementary school children about safety and visited high school classes, where he spoke about police and government.
“I like kids,” he said, “and the time to reach them is when they are very young. After that, it’s too late.”
Ron’s hobbies included a 50-year fascination with HAM radios. He and his wife have traveled around Europe and chartered sailboats in the Caribbean. He also dabbled in musical theater.
“Ron performed in about ten of the AMBUCS spring musicals,” said Barbara Sandhaus. “He was Stew Pot in South Pacific, Will Parker in Oklahoma and a dancing waiter in Hello, Dolly. All the money from the musicals supported the ambulance association. He just so loved this community.”
After his retirement, he took a position as a facilitator in the Warwick High School computer lab &tstr; where his wife was a math teacher.
Ron’s ultimate passion, according to Barbara, was sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.
“We started out with a little 23-foot sailboat, with no clue what we were doing. Eventually we upgraded to a 34-footer. After twenty years of sailing, we switched to a yacht.”
Sailing eventually became too physically demanding and the Sandhauses were ready to enjoy some creature comforts. Together, they helped found the Frog Mortar Yacht Club at Maryland Marina off the Middle River, Maryland. Fifteen years later, the club has over 100 members.
Family, friends and members of the community supported the Sandhaus family through Ron’s illness; his death nonetheless came as a blow to all who knew him. Many offered their condolences on the Lititz Borough Police Department’s Facebook page.
“I loved working with Ron when I was a juvenile probation officer in the 80s,” said Betsy Cannon Linn of Lititz. “He was an officer and a gentleman.”
“Ron leaves behind quite a legacy,” added Chief Bill Seace.
“I know that every friend of Ron’s has at least one ‘Ron story’ to tell,” said Barb Sandhaus. “I lost a wonderful husband, partner, protector and best friend. The house is so empty without his smile and warmth and love.”
“I have fond memories of this good man,” said Matthew Heckel of Elm, “of when I was not such a good person. I thank him for being a part of who I am today.”
Ron’s obituary can be found here.