STEPHEN HEMELT — Constable seeking crime tips from ex-sweethearts this Valentine’s Day

Published 12:30 am Saturday, February 4, 2023

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Constable Matt Ortego is promoting his Valentine’s Day Weekend Special.

Only he is not courting the hopelessly romantic. Ortego is focused on the love scorned, and he has a very specific pitch in mind.

“Do you have an ex-Valentine and know they have outstanding warrants? Do you have information that they are driving with drugs in their car? Give us a call with their location and we’ll take care of the rest.

“This Valentine’s Day Weekend Special starts off with a set of limited-edition platinum bracelets, free transportation with a chauffeur, a one-night minimum stay in luxurious accommodations and professional glamour shots that will be posted online for all to enjoy. This special is capped off with a special Valentine’s dinner.”

Yes, the Orange County Precinct 4 constable is looking for those with active warrants and is seeking help from those who might know them best.

It’s something he’s done before, having first took office in 2020, and the responses are fruitful, leading to numerous arrests.

Ortego says most would be surprised at the turnout for this yearly request for information.

“You get their life story,” he told me this week. “Sometimes I feel like Dr. Phil talking to them, whether they are related or if it was infidelity, whatever the case is. They tell me, ‘he has warrants and I stood beside him. I paid off his last six or seven warrants and now he has more warrants. He doesn’t keep his stuff together. He can’t keep a job.’”

Ortego says he always hears how terrible a person the man or woman in question is and is told where the suspects spend their days.

“You look and go pick him up at work if it’s felony warrants or something serious,” he said. “If it is traffic tickets that are outdated or outstanding for awhile, you get them at home, at work or wherever.

“A lot of people get upset and some have negative views, saying it’s just a way to generate revenue. That is not the case. Take care of your stuff and you won’t have a warrant. It is as simple as that.”

For Ortego, this is just a fun way to engage the community and clear the warrant lists.

His term expires Jan. 1 of 2025, and he knows he’ll be re-running in a year or so.

The Vidor native’s precinct includes Vidor, Rose City and Pine Forest.

“It’s been my childhood dream to always be a police officer,” Ortego said.

He went to the police academy in Jefferson County in 2007 and started his law enforcement work the year before in the jail.

He called it a good experience.

“I got to know how to read people, look for signs of deception and things like that,” Ortego recalls. “I learned the street lingo from different gangs. I worked evening shift, and during the daytime I was able to attend the sheriff’s academy. I had very long days for about nine months.”

Following graduation, he began work in the Vidor ISD Police Department and left after two years to get street experience.

“I worked in Jasper County for a long time and worked my way up to a patrol lieutenant. That was a good, fun job, but I had a wild hair to get out of law enforcement for a few years. I went back to school, got my teaching degree and certification and taught criminal justice at Silsbee High School.”

He also began working for the constable at that time, whom is now county sheriff, as a reserve deputy.

“I started enjoying the civil side of law enforcement, which you deal with evictions, small claims lawsuits and those things,” Ortego said.

That led to his decision to seek the constable’s office in Orange County, a position he earned a few years ago with a mission to engage the community.

Combining Valentine’s Day and active warrants is just one way to build relationships with law-abiding residents.

So my advice to those in the community running afoul of the law, don’t get on your ex’s bad side. He or she just might be calling the local constable.

Stephen Hemelt is the publisher at Orange Newsmedia, which produces the Orange Leader and He can be reached at