Mayor Cy Sun says former University of California-Davis police chief Annette Spicuzza will be in charge while John Calkins is on non-disciplinary leave.
"I'm not looking for in-depth help," Sun said. "What I'm looking for is she will carry us over the crisis that we have now."
Spicuzza made headlines in November, 2011 when she was put on leave as the university's police chief after her officers pepper sprayed demonstrators. Two officers involved in the incident were also placed on leave. Spicuzza says she later retired.
The incident reverberated well beyond the university, with condemnations and defenses of police from elected officials and from the wider public on Facebook and Twitter.
"It went worldwide -- I mean it was international," Spicuzza said. "By the time I woke up that Saturday morning, I had hate mail and death threats from people all over the place."
The protest was held in support of the overall Occupy Wall Street movement and in solidarity with protesters at the University of California, Berkeley who were jabbed by police with batons earlier that month. Nine students hit by pepper spray were treated at the scene, two were taken to hospitals and later released, university officials said. Ten people were arrested.
Spicuzza will lead a dwindling police force in Pacific, that was down to four officers after Calkins and a lieutenant were