Sixteen officers and a police dog were injured after rival groups of young men from the Muslim and Hindu communities attempted to fight each other in the street.
Police faced “significant aggression” while they dealt with the disorder in Leicester over the weekend.
Shocking footage showed the clash between the young men earlier today, the BBC reports.
Chief constable Rob Nixon explained the incidents came after a 20-year-old man from the city was jailed for 10 months having pleaded guilty to possession of an offence weapon.
He said officers were drafted in from “different parts of the country” to deal with the operation.
“They were faced with significant aggression, I think they faced some very, very challenging situations, and I actually do believe they put themselves in danger to protect the public,” he said.
“I have to say, I was actually on the ground [on Saturday] and I saw the level of aggression and the level of non-compliance, and I thought my officers did a tremendous job when significantly outnumbered.
“I think we were faced with a significant number of people that were intent on causing significant injury to other people, and my officers stood their ground.”
Some officers cancelled their days off in order to help, including those from other forces.
Mr Nixon continued: “These people are being drawn in at a time when there is probably the largest policing operation in the country, linked with the state funeral, so these things are having a broader impact.”
Police said the original disorder on Saturday had been sparked by a protest in the East Leicester area.
Another protest involving about 100 people followed on Sunday, but police said there had been no further disorder overnight into Monday.
The force confirmed two people were arrested on Saturday, including one on suspicion of possession of a bladed article, and the other on suspicion of conspiracy to commit violent disorder.
On Sunday a further 18 people were arrested for offences including affray, common assault, possession of an offensive weapon and violent disorder, but police have still been criticised by the public for not making more arrests.
Mr Nixon added: “Clearly making arrests in that really dynamic situation can take officers away from what they’re trying to do at that time.
“The primary objective on Saturday night was to keep separation between these large groups.
“Within that there were two people that were arrested, but what I will say is there were significant steps taken in terms of securing the video imagery of people.
“We’ve got an investigative team that has been put in place for each area of these disorders, and we’re then going back over and investigating it.”
Leicester’s elected mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, admitted he was “baffled” by the scenes witnessed over the weekend.
He said: “It got fanned by some very distorted social media.
“And then fuelled by a lot of people who came in from outside as well as some young local lads who seemed to feel it was appropriate to frighten and disturb this peaceful city.
“I also know there was also a concerted attempt on Saturday to bring people from as far as Birmingham, to ship them across to have a bit of a ‘set-to’ in Leicester.”
Suleman Nagdi, of the Leicester-based Federation of Muslim Organisations, added: “There are some very dissatisfied young men who have been causing havoc.
“We need to get the message out that this must end and try to do this through parents and grandparents talking to their sons.”
Sanjiv Patel, who represents Hindu and Jain temples across Leicester, said: “Violence is not a solution to anything. This has to be a time for peace, calm and engagement.”
Leicestershire Police Federation slammed the attack on officers, with c hairman Adam Commons saying: “My colleagues do not come to work to be subjected to this type of behaviour and should not be going home nursing cuts and bruises.
“One of our police dogs has also been injured in a disgraceful attack.
“They are all trying to do their job and keep people safe.”