All week, Stoneman Douglas High School students expressed fear in returning to campus for the first time since the shooting.
But on the first day back to school on Wednesday morning, there was an unprecedented show of support by the men and women who vow to protect and serve.
“I had a lot of anxiety last night and I have a lot of anxiety now," said one student.
The Broward County Police Benevolent Association issued an all-points bulletin for officers this week, asking off-duty or working officers to gather at Stoneman Douglas and support the students. The idea came from the wife of a Broward police union member whose son goes to the school.
WPTV's Alanna Quillen was there as thousands of officers -- some from as far as New York City and Texas -- answered that call.
"A smile for a flower?" asked Rod Skirvin, handing a flower to a student walking to class.
Skirvin, vice president for the Broward PBA, joined officers and other members to greet students. A local flower shop even donated over 1,000 carnations for officers to hand out to students.
“It's a step in the right direction for the healing process," he said. “You can tell a lot of them are heart broken, it's nice just to get them to smile their first day back."
PBA members gave away all 1,000 flowers within an hour before school started.
“If everybody does a small part to help these kids get back to normalcy then maybe that’s a step for them in the right direction," said Skirvin.
Law enforcement arrived by car, foot, motorcycle and horse. Officers surrounded every corner of the campus, helping students navigate the media frenzy and traffic to get to class safely and comfortably.
“Boy, were we surprised. We didn’t realize that this many people would come," said John Rivera, Florida PBA president.
Ed Geary of the NYPD and a member of the Sergeants Benevolent Association traveled all the way from New York City.
"This is part of the way of showing we do care," he said.
He's witnessed tragedy first hand, both with the 9/11 terrorist attacks the World Trade Center Bombing in 1993.
“As we’ve seen with our experience in New York.. You need the help and you appreciate the help of other departments when they come in to assist you.'
It's a path to healing that officers say these students will never have to walk alone.
“We are proud of our officers. We’re here showing the students that we’re with the kids and that we support and love them," said Rivera.
An enhanced police presence will remain on campus for the rest of the week.