MADISON, Wis. -

Discussion will begin as early as next week on who should be Madison's next police chief.

Current Chief Noble Wray announced his impending retirement from the force on Tuesday.

Madison's Police and Fire Commission is tasked with the hiring of the next chief and its members will begin the process for that on Monday during their monthly meeting.

The commission will have to decide whether to make an internal hire or search outside the department for Wray's replacement. The PFC attorney says that process, along with gathering community input, will take some time.

Asst. Chief Randy Gaber, who will be tasked with the interim job, says he's up to the challenge.

"I welcome it in the sense that I've spent over half my life in this department, I'm committed and passionate about the Madison Police Department and community of Madison," said Gaber. "I can see myself doing nothing more and if there's something I can do to continue to help this department and this community move forward I'm up for that challenge as interim chief."

Asst. Chief John Davenport said Tuesday it would be difficult to replace Wray as he was "beloved" in the department.

"To fill his footsteps is going to be kind of like when Vince Lombardi was replaced," said Davenport.

Gaber said Wednesday that it was too early to say whether he was interested in the job, and Davenport said he definitely was not and would be more interested in assisting with the transition.

Right now both are reflecting on Wray's impact.

"I've had the luxury of being able to go to school under him so to speak," said Gaber. "I've said often that there's not a week that goes by that I don't learn something new about policing or how to interact with people or establish relationships."

"I think we do have leaders throughout the organization vertically and horizontally that we will be able to move forward," said Davenport. "Having said that, Chief Wray's leadership will be significantly missed."

The last two times MPD hired new police chiefs, including Wray's hiring and the hiring of Fire Chief Steven Davis, were both done on a strictly internal basis. PFC Attorney Herrick said that was because commissioners were aware there were a number of quality internal applicants for both jobs.