WHEN HARRY F. Gwynne took over as captain of the 22nd Police District in the high-crime neighborhood of North-Central Philadelphia in the '70s, he had his work cut out for him.

But "Dutch" Gwynne, as he was called, met the challenge and won over community leaders with his compassionate understanding of the district's problems.

In 1974, Bishop Gus Jennings, head of the True Light Church of God in Christ, presented Gwynne with a church award and sang his praises loudly.

"Since he came into the district, I've seen a great change in the neighborhood, especially among the Police Department," Jennings told the Daily News' Joe Clark. "People are not afraid to walk the streets at night. Kids talk with cops with respect.

"He's a man who is always available. As long as he is in his office, he'll listen to anyone. He's never too busy to talk."

This kind of leadership was what marked Gwynne's 20-year career as a Philadelphia police officer.

He also taught police science at colleges in the Philadelphia area and in Florida.

He died Nov. 30 of natural causes. He was 77 and was living in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Gwynne was a Navy veteran of the Korean War, serving aboard the destroyer USS Wren, and later served in the Coast Guard Reserve. He was former commander of the reserve station in St. Petersburg, Fla.

He joined the Police Department in 1957. He was promoted to detective in 1962, lieutenant in 1968 and captain in 1969. He retired in 1977.

He served in the South and West Detective divisions, the Labor Squad, the Command Inspection Bureau and Major Crimes, and as commander of the Police Academy. On March 24, 1974, the Chapel of the Four Chaplains honored him with the Legion of Honor "in recognition of outstanding service to all people regardless of race or faith."

After moving to Florida, Gwynne became a training officer for the sheriff's department in Pinellas County. During that time, he received an Exceptional Service Award for exercising restraint when he disarmed a man who had pointed a loaded .45-caliber handgun at him.

In 1983, Gwynne became police chief of Belleair, Fla. He retired from there in 1997.

Gwynne graduated from John Bartram High School and went on to Temple University, graduating in 1972. He earned a master's degree in criminal justice from Nova Southeastern University, in Florida, in 1980.

He taught police administration and criminal justice at St. Petersburg Junior College, where he also was assistant director of the Florida Institute for Law Enforcement. He also taught at Montgomery County Community College, where he was chairman of the political-science department, and at Florida Metropolitan University.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, the former Annemarie McCurry; three sons, Harry Jr., Kurt and Karl; a daughter, Sharon, and five grandchildren.

Services: Graveside service 10 a.m. Dec. 18 at Fernwood Cemetery in Delaware County.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Survivors' Fund of Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, 1336 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia 19123.