It is, however, too early to judge whether the newly retired deputy police chief’s contribution to the Island will prove ultimately to have been primarily positive or negative.
That will depend to a large extent on how many convictions are secured at the end of the long, painful and controversial inquiry into historical child abuse which he has instigated and led in what has become his trademark blunt, combative style.
There is no doubt, meanwhile, that the Haut de la Garenne inquiry and Mr Harper’s skilful use of the international media to raise its profile have created an unparalleled furore which, while it has succeeded in encouraging more witnesses to come forward, has also led to awful and unjustified opprobrium being heaped on Jersey and its people in general.
As Mr Harper heads this week into a well-earned, but possibly still high-profile, retirement, it falls to others to take charge of the complex major investigation, on the outcome of which rest many important issues related to the well-being of private individuals and of the Jersey community as a whole.
It goes almost without saying that after Mr Harper’s departure from the scene, there must be no slackening of resolve to get to the truth of what happened at Haut de la Garenne, to secure justice for victims and to take whatever action is required to heal the wounds.
That does not mean that nothing should now change in terms of the investigation’s media strategy or, more widely, the role of the States police in the society it exists to serve.
Whatever his other virtues as a dedicated police officer, it is a sad fact that the variously aggressive or suspicious approach favoured by Mr Harper in certain circumstances has been allowed to open up the beginnings of an unwelcome gap between the States police and the community.
There is a danger that if it remains unchallenged, the idea could take root that the uniformed force is some kind of external agency, put in place to control an unruly and untrustworthy population from which it is somehow set apart.
It was probably not possible to have a full and free debate on the relationship between the States police and the Island community, or on the current unsatisfactory level of political oversight of the force, while Mr Harper – who has not been noted for his receptiveness to the views of others during his time in Jersey – was in his post. It can now begin, however, and the imminent States elections will provide a helpful catalyst for it.
It may even be that the bluff and bombastic Ulsterman, who deserves the Island’s thanks for his tireless commitment to the child abuse inquiry, will be able to make some constructive contribution to that important debate now that he is out of uniform.