Assistant Minneapolis police chief Matt Clark addressed reporters. JIM GEHRZ/Star Tribune

Matt Clark, assistant chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, is one of two finalists to lead the University of Minnesota police force after a months-long search to replace the retiring Greg Hestness.

If he is offered and accepts the U job, Clark would take over for Hestness, a longtime Minneapolis cop who rose to the rank of deputy chief, who is retiring in June after 11 years on the job, according to school officials. Hestness also serves as the university’s assistant vice president for public safety.

The other finalist to replace him is Colleen Luna, commander of the St. Paul Police Department's Property Crimes Unit.

Clark was appointed assistant chief by Chief Janeé Harteau shortly after she took the job in 2012, taking over day-to-day operations of the state’s largest police department.

A former volunteer firefighter, he joined the department in 1993 and rose through the ranks, making sergeant in 1999 and then lieutenant in 2007. At the time of his appointment, he commanded the 5th Precinct in southwest Minneapolis.

Last year, Clark was offered the police chief job in Bellevue, Wash., but he turned it down.

In a presentation to U officials last month, Clark touted his record in community building and said he would focus on protecting students on and off campus, the Minnesota Daily reported.

“Everybody’s from somewhere; everybody’s got a story,” he said, the student newspaper reported,“and that adds to the culture of the city of Minneapolis, but it also adds to the culture of the University.”

His departure would make him the third member of Harteau’s original senior staff to leave or be demoted in the last year.