RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia State Police are for the first time offering some recruits a chance to become troopers without completing a full six-month State Police Academy.

The agency announced Friday that local law enforcement officers in Virginia can become state troopers by attending a two-month accelerated entry program.

State Police Superintendent Steven Flaherty said the agency is facing vacancy rates approaching 50 percent in many field divisions. He hopes an abbreviated training program will appeal to officers who've already had on-the-job training.

Candidates will be paid the equivalent of a $49,000 annual salary during the training program. Once they become state troopers, they are eligible for a starting salary that exceeds $60,000 in northern Virginia.

State troopers received hefty raises this year to try to combat a heavy attrition rate.