DAVIS, Calif. -- The University of California Davis campus police chief was placed on administrative leave Monday as the school's chancellor called for the Yolo County district attorney to review the use of force in the pepper-spraying of protesting students.

The decision to place Chief Annette Spicuzza on leave was necessary to allow a review of events and help calm the campus, the university said.

The action also came as national attention is focusing on the police response to what appeared to be a peaceful protest.

NBC's "Today" show and other programs did segments on the pepper-spraying incident, including broadcasting video that showed a UC Davis police officer spraying a line of students who were seated and providing no active resistance.

"As I have gathered more information about the events that took place on the quad on Friday, it has become clear to me that this is a necessary step toward restoring trust on our campus," said Chancellor Linda Katehi.

Campus protests have gone on since last week, first by students who slept overnight in Mrak Hall. The students eventually were evicted.

That protest paled in contrast to the pepper-spray incident. Students who camped overnight on the quad Thursday were ordered out of the encampment the next day.

When police tried to move them out Friday, officers said they felt surrounded. At least one officer subsequently used a large can of pepper spray on the sitting students.

The footage of an officer casually spraying an orange cloud at protesters' heads while spectators screamed in horror joined other much-discussed pepper-spray incidents, such as the 84-year-old activist hit in the face in Seattle and a Portland, Ore., woman who recently was sprayed in the mouth.

Katehi said she has replaced Spicuzza with interim police chief Lt. Matt Carmichael.

Katehi again Monday took responsibility for the Friday events and said she was saddened by the pepper-spraying, images of which spread in national press reports and on social media. She will appoint a task force to review the incident.

Katehi said she has called upon the Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig's office to investigate the campus police department's use of force.

In a press release, she said that the district attorney has agreed to conduct a review in collaboration with the Yolo County Sheriff's Department.

University of California President Mark Yudof also has said that he had begun an urgent assessment of the actions by UC Davis police.

The Associated Press contributed to this story