Law enforcement officers are being killed on duty more often, both locally and nationwide.

There has been a 43 percent increase in the number of officers who died on duty in the first half of 2010, compared with the same time period last year, according to data released Wednesday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Eighty-seven officers across the country were killed in the first six months of 2010, up from 61 officers last year.

In Maryland, three officers have been killed so far this year. None were killed in 2009. Two Virginia officers have died in 2010, while three were killed all of last year. No officers died on duty in the District in either year.

All three of Maryland's deaths this year occurred locally. The Virginia deaths took place in Spotsylvania and Richmond.

Prince George's County Officer Thomas Jensen and Montgomery County Officer Hector Ayala were both killed in car accidents while responding to incidents. Maryland State Police Trooper Wesley Brown was shot in Prince George's County. He was off-duty, but was working a security detail at an Applebee's restaurant at the time.

Two officer deaths in the county in such a short time period is "shocking" said Maj. Andrew Ellis, a Prince George's police spokesman.

"It's disturbing that what we have seen in Prince George's County is following a nationwide trend," he added.

The last five officers killed in Montgomery County, dating back to 1993, died in vehicle accidents.

Lucille Bauer, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman, said police vehicles get regular maintenance and officers receive ongoing driving training.

"These losses serve as reminders of the tragic consequences that can occur in performing routine law enforcement duties," she said.

Nationwide, traffic-related deaths jumped 35 percent for the first six months of the year.

Kevin Morison, a fund spokesman, noted that this year's increases come after deaths reached a historic low last year. In 2009, 116 officers died in the line of duty, the lowest yearly total since 1959.

It's too early to tell whether the 2010 increases are an anomaly or signal a larger trend, Morison said.

He said the organization hopes the midyear numbers will discourage municipalities from cutting funds for training and equipment and will make drivers more attentive when they see police cruisers or officers on the side of the road.