This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Prior to this month anyone in Alabama could advertise themselves as a “private investigator,” but all of that has changed, replaced with a state regulatory board and new licensing process.

Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 172 on the final day of the legislative session and Gov. Robert Bentley signed it into law in June. The new law is similar to laws in 48 other states across the country. Now private investigators must be licensed and consumers have an outlet to voice complaints.

The Alabama Private Investigators Association lobbied hard for the past several years to have the laws passed because “a few bad apples” were ruining the reputation of legitimate investigators in the state, according to Bill Posey, a Madison County private investigator who will sit on the newly formed state board. The other board members will be picked by the governor, community and other state and local groups.

“This is probably the best thing that has ever happened to our industry in Alabama and is a public safety problem that is being fixed,” Posey told WHNT News 19.

“This new licensing and regulatory board will begin the process of ridding Alabama of thieves and thugs who have been operating under the guise of private investigator,” Posey added.

In the near future, private investigators will be required to submit their finger prints and undergo background checks. They will also have to complete continuing education courses just like private investigators in many other states.

There was nearly unanimous support for this bill in the House and Senate. SB 172 was sponsored by Senator Bill Holtzclaw of Madison, Alabama and Representative Howard Sanderford from Huntsville, Alabama.