The good guys are losing one of their best guys.

Provo Police Capt. Jerry Markling, who began the dispatch training academy at Utah Valley Community College and coordinated setup of enhanced 911 system in Utah County, is leaving the department Friday. After serving Provo for 20 years, Markling has accepted a job as an enforcement agent with the Nevada State Gaming Control Board in Las Vegas.Police Chief Swen C. Nielsen presented Markling with the department's Medal of Distinction last week. The department has given the medal to only two other officers.

To receive the medal an officer's service to the city must demonstrate initiative and innovation. Also, the service must be successful while involving a substantial risk of failure.

"It is a substantial loss to me personally to have him leave," Nielsen said.

Markling's ability to "get right things done in the right way" has earned him the reputation of being something of a wizard among his colleagues. Some years ago, co-workers began giving him small statues of wizards - they are scattered all over his desk and window sill - to symbolize his penchant for pulling off the impossible.

"I think one of the things he will always be known for is the progress in the Police Department," said Trudy Holm, Nielsen's executive secretary.

During his years with the city, Markling worked on many programs that have a direct effect on Provo residents. About three years ago he organized the dispatch academy as a means of providing a pool of potential employees for local law enforcement agencies and other organizations that use dispatchers.

Markling was chairman of the committee charged with coordinating installation of the E-911 system in Utah County. That is one of the accomplishments Markling is most proud of.

"The good it does for the community can't be measured," he said. "I'm happy I had a part in getting that going and getting it running because it saves lives on a daily basis."

If a Provo police officer pulls you over this Christmas season and hands you not a citation but a candy cane, think of Markling. It was his idea to start Provo's holiday cheer program, Nielsen said.

And just two weeks ago, Markling completed an evacuation plan for the Riverbottoms area, which can help save lives and reduce property damage should a disaster strike that area.

Markling also had a direct effect on a lot of "bad guys" in Provo over the years. He headed the city's special investigative services bureau in the early 1980s. The unit was responsible for such undercover operations as the "Gips (for "pigs") Pawn Shop," which was set up almost directly across the street from the police department and resulted in the arrests of several burglars and recovery of thousands of dollars of stolen property.

And then there was the "GYA (for Got You Again) Video Arcade through which undercover officers were able to nab a number of people suspected of being local drug dealers.

But, the "Provo Cab Company" operation is one of Markling's favorites.

The department turned an old police car into a cab, used an undercover officer as the cabbie who hung out at local bars, and set up a phone line that rang into the police station.

Through that operation, the Provo Police Department made more than 100 arrests for narcotic violations. Operation "Gold Snow," which was one of the first undercover operations in Utah to involve wiretapping, also resulted in the arrests of several suspected of cocaine distribution.

"They were kind of fun to come up with," Markling said. "The Provo Police Department is an excellent team working together. When we target something we're usually successful in accomplishing goals we set."

Part of Markling's success at police work is due to the fact he views it as a game which pits "master criminals" - who have an advantage because they know what they've done and how they've done it - against police officers.

"You have the good guys and the bad guys and the cops are always trying to figure out the bad guys," he said. "If you do, the good guys win the game."

Criminals in Las Vegas be warned: When it comes to the game of policework, Markling is a master.