In a drug-induced rage, Mary's 26-year-old son ripped a heavy security door off its hinges. It wasn't the first time police had been called to the Canberra home, all for similar situations. But Mary, a loving mother, was told police couldn't do anything unless her son harmed himself or someone else.
This is just one of the problems ACT Policing is hoping to solve with the introduction of about 50 new staff into community education and diversion roles.
The head of ACT Policing's community safety portfolio, Detective Superintendent Jamey Bellicanta, calls it "the void".
"All police are doing [at the moment], with all respect, we call them spot fires," he said.
"We go to a spot fire; a theft, shoplifting, burglary, assault, whatever it is. We either take that person with us, interview them and put them before a court, or we don't. That's the end of it. We could do 12 to 15 of those per police car per day. Are we really fixing the problem? No."
Detective Superintendent Bellicanta said the void existed between those incidents and serious crimes such as murder and sexual assault.
Mary and other families she's met in her quest for help for her son are well and truly in the void.
"We've had that many call-outs from the police when he's smashed walls, ripped doors off hinges when he was having episodes a few years ago," Mary said.
"I understand the police have no power and it is legislation they have to abide by, but there were tears in one policeman's eyes, he said 'I really wish we could do something', but he couldn't unless we wanted to press charges for domestic violence, and that's not what I wanted."
Detective Superintendent Bellicanta said the addition of new members to the community safety, education and diversion team would help people like Mary and her son.
The ACT government provided funding for 60 positions over four years in the 2019-20 budget.
"The police can keep turning up and locking people up, that's what we do, but it doesn't fix the problem," Detective Superintendent Bellicanta said.
"You could give us 200 more police, you could put a policeman on every corner, but we're still not going to fix the causes of the problems, and that's what this is all about.
He said the expanded team would work behind the scenes to help parents, to harness support from education and heath, and to encourage people into alcohol and drug diversion programs. But the only way the situation would improve was if police could work with other agencies, he said.
"Essentially what government has said, or has indicated, is there won't be one more dollar spent at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. We need to identify ways to reduce recidivism and stop the incarceration rates within Canberra.
"As best we can, we try and wrap coordinated, cohesive support around these people but it's not something police can do alone."
Detective Superintendent Bellicanta said years ago police would engage in "traditional policing", where officers would do the things expected of the new community safety, education and diversion team.
"We've just got no time for that now," he said.
"We need to reorganise and redesign how to provide a policing service to the community."
The revised model of policing, with extra staff in community safety, education and diversion should help the system work more effectively, but he said the improvements wouldn't be immediate.
"This is a slow race. If you gave us 60 people tomorrow, you would see results. Because of the way the funding has been arranged... you'll see it in time."
- This is the first story in a series by the Sunday Canberra Times exploring illicit drug addiction, the impact it has on families and the community, and what's being done to help.