The candidates are Capt. Carl Gloede, commander of the Central District, and Sgt. Mike Koval, the department's personnel and training recruiter. The previous chief, Noble Wray, retired in September 2013.
The commission had opened up the search beyond the department and advertised for applicants nationally. Twenty people applied for the job, including four current employees of the Madison Police Department. Of the 16 who applied from outside the force, four were from Wisconsin and the other 12 from out of state.
The commission began interviewing candidates earlier this month and announced Tuesday that its two finalists were from the department.
"All five commissioners could imagine either one of these candidates being the chief," said Scott Herrick, the commission's legal counsel. "They bring strong capacities and credentials to the job."
The commission will now do thorough background checks for both candidates, a process that will be somewhat simpler because it has ready access to their personnel files. The commission will conduct at least one more interview with each, although the timing and process have yet to be established.
Herrick says a selection might be made in April.