Matt Markham went to work Thursday as a captain in the Columbia Heights Police Department. On Friday, he will have a new title: police chief.

Markham, who has been with the department for 25 years, has been appointed as the north metro suburb's top cop and will be sworn in Friday.

"Matt's inclusive approach and visionary leadership make him the ideal candidate to lead our police department," said Mayor Amáda Márquez Simula. "I thank him for his past contributions to our city and eagerly anticipate his continued dedication."

Markham, who will become the 12th chief in the department's history, takes over for Lenny Austin, who is retiring on Friday.

Markham, 49, joined the Columbia Heights Police Department in 1998, and over the past two decades has accumulated a wealth of experience in community policing, training, recruitment and mentorship, Simula said. In his new role, Markham will oversee 31 sworn police officers, seven community service officers and five support staff members.

Simula selected Markham for the job after she sought feedback from citizens to learn the qualities they wanted in a police chief and invited them to participate in the interview process.

"I'd like to thank Mayor Márquez Simula and the community for their due diligence during the interview process," Markham said. "I'm looking forward to building upon the positive relationships established in Columbia Heights. I can't wait to continue working with staff, elected officials, and community members to make Columbia Heights a place for everyone."

Markham holds degrees in law enforcement from Rochester Community and Technical College and Winona State University, and a master's degree in public safety and law enforcement leadership from the University of St. Thomas.