When Powell police Chief Gary Vest officially retires this week after 23 years at the helm, he'll be leaving the department in familiar hands.

Deputy Chief of Police Stephen Hrytzik will be sworn in as interim police chief when Vest's retirement becomes official Friday, May 10.

Hrytzik's time in Powell actually predates Vest, beginning 28 years ago when he was hired as a patrol officer. He worked his way through the Powell ranks and was named deputy chief in 2008.

He attended the FBI National Academy in 2005 and served on its Ohio chapter board for eight years. He was president of the board in 2017.

He graduated from the Police Executive Leadership College and received a bachelor's degree in business administration from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. He has served on a variety of area leadership boards, including the Liberty Township/Powell YMCA board, Kiwanis Club of Powell and the Powell Sertoma Club.

"Deputy Chief Hrytzik's experience makes him uniquely qualified to serve as the interim chief," City Manager Steve Lutz said in a press release. "We look forward to having Deputy Chief Hrytzik serve in this role over the next six months while the hiring process is finalized."

Powell spokeswoman Megan Canavan said city leaders are "determining what that hiring process looks like," given they haven't had to hire a new chief in more than two decades.

But for the time being, Vest said the city is in good hands.

"With a great degree of confidence, I believe the public will see a seamless transition in the department," he said. "Steve manages a lot of things in the department that make me look good, so he'll do well. He's got the knowledge to do it. ... and we've got a team here that's community-focused."

Hrytzik said his main goal as interim chief will be to "maintain the agency at the level we're at."

"You don't fill Chief Vest's shoes; they're too big to fill," he said. "So I just hope I can continue on with what he's already built and everything he's taught me."

He said he wants to prove his worth in the role and would like to have it on a full-time basis, but said that's not his focus as he becomes interim chief. He said he'll "let the powers that be" make that decision.

"Obviously, it's something I'm interested in," he said. "I have a strong desire to continue with what the chief has started here and continue his legacy."