PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay has appealed to those with influence to "stay calm" over the next 48 hours.
He said 60 new police Land Rovers will be used for first time as part of the security operation on Tuesday.
"This is a period of heightened tension and I'm here to appeal for those who have a particular ability to influence, to stay calm, to stay collected, to talk to one another," he added.
ACC Finlay said that disorder is having a detrimental impact on communities across Northern Ireland.
"Such violence damages local infrastructure, it sets back relationships and leaves wounds which take time to heal.
"Every hour spent in countering riotous attack, in dealing with disorder, every casualty evacuated during these incidents has the potential to deprive communities of vital resources that could be used to increase the quality of life for everyone," he said.
His comments echoed those of the First and Deputy First Ministers, who warned against actions that would "drag us back to the past", in the wake of serious rioting in Co Antrim at the weekend.
While there can be occasions when feelings may run high, violence and rioting is not the answer.
First Minister Peter Robinson
Up to 100 people gathered in Ballyclare on Saturday night, throwing petrol bombs and missiles at police.
Police say 15 vehicles were hijacked, including two buses. A number of these were set alight and used to attack police lines.
Five officers were hurt when a police vehicle was rammed with one of the hijacked buses. Another officer was injured when he was hit with stones.
The trouble erupted after local police removed a number of flags outside a Catholic church in the Grange Drive and Doagh Road areas of the town earlier in the day.
Justice Minister David Ford said local officers had acted entirely in accordance with the flags protocol.
ACC Finlay said there was no excuse for the violence but apologised to those who felt they were let down by the PSNI.
"I apologised to them (community leaders and political representatives) because they gave me certain information which showed we might have been able to do a better job," he explained on Monday.
Loyalists are being blamed for the violence, which spread to other areas in south Antrim in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Cars were hijacked and burned in Carrickfergus. Trouble was also reported in Larne and in Newtownabbey.
Fresh trouble erupted on Sunday night in Dundonald where a number of youths set fire to road barriers and a large tyre on the main carriageway.
A petrol bomb was thrown at a police vehicle, as officers responded to the disorder.
An attempt was also made to hijack a vehicle in the area at around 2.50am on Monday. The van received damage to the front windscreen, as the driver managed to steer it away.
The decision to remove the flags after negotiations had failed was in accordance with the flags protocol and represented appropriate action by the police.
Justice Minister David Ford
Speaking ahead of Tuesday's Twelfth of July parades, Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness have urged people from all communities to "step back and think" before taking part in further violence.
"I call upon everyone to take a step back and think of the consequences before doing something which you will later regret," Mr Robinson said.
"We must not allow the progress that has been made to be thwarted by those who want to drag us back to the past. We are determined to build a better and brighter future for all in Northern Ireland."
Mr McGuinness said: "There is no doubt however that we have come a long way.
"Only last month in my home city of Derry there was a coming together of two traditions as one community in a symbol of hope and togetherness with the opening of the Peace Bridge which spans the Foyle. We can all take inspiration from this.
"Issues surrounding a small number of contentious parades need to be resolved. I call on elected representatives, community leaders and indeed everyone in positions of authority within local communities to use their influence wisely this summer."
Last week trouble also flared across Lurgan and Craigavon, Co Armagh.
A number of vehicles were burnt out during several evenings of disorder, with masked gunmen reportedly involved.
The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister said it has been carrying out extensive work alongside community leaders in recent weeks to identify and maintain calm in potential flashpoints.
Police also say they have been working in communities to maintain order.