The number of law enforcement officers who have died on the job in the District, Maryland and Virginia in 2012 declined for the third year in a row, echoing a national trend, according to a new report.

As of Dec. 25, eight officers have died in the Washington region, down from the 10 officers who died in 2011 and 11 officers who passed in 2010, according to a study by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that promotes officer safety.

Nationally, the number of officers killed in the line of duty declined by 23 percent in 2012, down from 165 in 2011 to 127 to date this year, according to the study.

It's the first time in two years that the national number of officers who've died while on duty has dropped.

"The loss of any officer is devastating to their family, their community and our nation," said Craig Floyd, the fund's chairman and CEO. "However, I am encouraged to see a significant decrease in the number of law enforcement officers killed in 2012, after two years of alarming increases in the number of fatalities."

Maryland is the only jurisdiction in the region to buck the national trend -- six officers have died to date in 2012, compared with just two last year. The only states where more officers died this year than in Maryland are Texas, with 10 deaths, and Georgia, where eight officers have died.

Two officers have died in Virginia, while no officers were killed in the District for the second consecutive year.

Four deaths in Maryland are linked to traffic accidents, including two Prince George's County officers killed while driving their police cruisers without wearing a seat belt.

Traffic fatalities, such as the death of 23-year-old Prince George's County Police Officer Adrian Morris, are once again the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths among law enforcement agencies. As of Dec. 17, 50 officers had died in 2012 in traffic accidents, down 17 percent from the 60 officers that died in 2011.

Morris was ejected from his police cruiser when the vehicle flipped several times during a high-speed chase on Interstate 95 in August. Officials in Maryland have been working to cut down on what they call preventable deaths in the field by encouraging officers to buckle up.