EDISTO BEACH Former Spartanburg County Sheriff Bill Coffey has been hired as the town's new police chief.

Coffey is an investigative specialist for South and Southeast Asia with the International Justice Mission, according to a statement released today by Town Administrator Iris Hill. He served as sheriff in Spartanburg from 1989 to 2004.

Hill said in the statement that Coffey has owned property on Edisto for more than 40 years and "he understands 'the Edisto Way.'"

"Along with his impressive background and accomplishments in law enforcement, he brings to the table an exemplary set of skills making him a great fit to take the police department to the next level," Hill wrote.

He will start May 1, taking over for Interim Police Chief John Towery.

Towery took over for Chief Harold "Trent" Canady, who said he was fired in October after 11 years on the job because of political strife.